Two weeks before the expiration of a statewide eviction moratorium, Clark County says it has more than 17,000 applications for rental assistance money still waiting to be processed.
The update on the status of federal funds set aside to help people pay overdue rent came at a virtual town hall on Wednesday hosted by Clark County Commissioners Tick Segerblom and William McCurdy II and Las Vegas Councilwoman Olivia Diaz.
Kevin Schiller, Clark County assistant county manager, explained in the town hall that the CARES Housing Assistance Program (CHAP) ran out of funds in December, leaving about 12,000 households that had applied for rental assistance in the queue.
Schiller said of those 12,000, about 4,500 have been processed, for a total of about $12 million in aid. Because of the anticipated funding through the second and third round of federal aid, Schiller said, CHAP allowed more room for applicants, which led to the backlog of between 17,000 and 20,000 applications.
New federal funding came with changes in eligibility requirements, which required CHAP to upgrade its computer system. Changes included lowering the annual income cap for a family of four from about $90,000 to $60,000 and no longer allowing landlord-direct applications in bulk — a tenant has to submit the application and meet requirements.
But with the upgrades completed, Schiller said the program will be in “fast forward mode” starting Monday, processing about 1,700 applications a week.
Panelists at the town hall meeting strongly encouraged people in need of rental assistance to visit Chap.ClarkCountynv.gov, fill out an application and get in the queue before the moratorium expires on March 31. Between the City of Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson, Clark County and funding from the state, $161 million is earmarked for rental assistance, or enough to serve 20,000 more households beyond those in the queue.
“If you have not applied for rental assistance, you have to apply for rental assistance… There is a pot of money there that tenants who have been impacted by COVID can tap into to pay their rent,” said Jim Berchtold, and attorney with Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada. “The application process can be a little cumbersome, and so we have seen a number of tenants who have gotten discouraged and have just quit. That is not the answer. The answer is to stick with it, submit that application and get that rental assistance.”
Berchtold said that while applying for aid would not guarantee a landlord would not evict a tenant, it could help a tenant’s case to stay in a home, even if the money requested was still pending.
It’s unclear whether there will be any extension of the federal or state eviction moratoriums that are set to expire March 31.
“We're working with our local partners, with the judicial branch, to determine how to handle it,” Gov. Steve Sisolak said at a press conference on Wednesday. “I’ve got a lot of options on the table right now, we're working night and day to come up with a plan for that and you should see something in the future.”