A whopping 30,000 Alaska households sent in applications to the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation for its latest round of COVID-19 rent relief.
About 1,600 of those came from within the Kenai Peninsula Borough. AHFC spokesperson Stacy Barnes said the organization is working through applications in priority order.
“Which means those people who have been unemployed for 90 days or more or are of the lowest income," she said.
AHFC has already approved nearly 350 applications for the borough, totaling $1.3 million in first-quarter payments. Applicants can receive up to a year’s rent and utilities.
“The potential for the Kenai Peninsula Borough, if every single application were fully funded, it would be just over $7 million," Barnes said.
AHFC also ran rent relief programs last summer and fall.
The fall program was done in conjunction with some Alaska municipalities. It was very popular locally. The city of Kenai more than doubled the funds available in its program to $1 million to meet needs.
This program is bypassing cities and boroughs, with the exception of Anchorage, which is running its own program. Over $200 million is coming from the state and AHFC is handling applications and distributing checks.
This program is also open to renters only, whereas the last round included homeowners, too.
“It really is astounding that there were more than 30,000 applications that came in from Alaskans asking for this assistance," Barnes said.
It’s three times the number of applications AHFC got last summer. Barnes said it might be because earlier programs didn’t cover as many months of rent as this one.
She also thinks people were more optimistic at the beginning of the pandemic that things would get back to normal soon.
“And yet here we are, approaching the summer tourism season, and there seems to be a lot of optimism but there's also recognition that the numbers are not what they had been expecting," Barnes said.
Barnes said AHFC doesn’t have a set date for when it will be done processing applications. She said applicants can check their status on the organization’s website, at alaskahousingrelief.org.