Clark County rental assistance for tenants, landlords ends

Local official says, ‘The new crisis is these huge spikes in rent.’

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Rental assistance for landlords and tenants in Clark County has ended following American Rescue Plan Act funds running out.

The program, managed by OIC of Clark County, has been operational since 2020 and was designed to keep people from being evicted and becoming homeless, executive director Mike Calabrese said.

Since its inception, more than $6 million has been expended for rental assistance, Calabrese said. About a year ago, the county received some extra funding because it had one of the highest eviction rates in the state.

“The new crisis is these huge spikes in rent. Rent prices have gone up 30, 40, 50%,” Calabrese said.

Landlords that OIC has worked with have seemed very understanding of the impending crisis and will perhaps be more flexible, Calabrese said.

Households eligible for rental assistance were required to have an income at or below 80% of the Area Median Income, experience financial difficulties related directly or indirectly to the pandemic, have experienced an income reduction or qualified for unemployment benefits and have been behind on rent, pending eviction or experiencing homelessness.

The program’s end comes after local nonprofit Sheltered Inc., which provides services for people experiencing homelessness, reduced hours at its two emergency shelters due to a lack of funding. The shelters will close down completely beginning in July if Sheltered Inc. does not receive additional funding.

All rental assistance applications received before the end of the program were still being processed, and anyone on rental assistance will continue to receive it until the end of their contract period, Calabrese said.

Calabrese said there does not appear to be any available funding to continue the program.

“Local governments are already strapped, so for them to come up with a new stream of funds is very challenging,” Calabrese said.

Springfield City Manager Bryan Heck said the city is discussing options on how to mitigate the challenges posed by rental assistance ending and shelters reducing hours.

“Since COVID, the increase in the number of individuals that have been displaced as well as families that have been displaced has increased significantly, and so it’s something that we are certainly aware of and continuing to work and problem solve to develop solutions,” Heck said.

Clark County Commissioner Melanie Flax Wilt said with emergency funds received at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic all running out, more permanent solutions need to be implemented. She said the homelessness crisis has been ongoing since 2020, though it is not as dire as it was then.

Heck said the city will continue working with the county and other agencies to address homelessness.

“This is certainly a collaborative effort; to be successful not one agency or entity can do it in a vacuum, and so that’s going to be key, is us working together and partnering together to develop solutions for our community, Heck said.

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