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Rent and Mortgage Relief Comes to Interior

Ellen Grover
Alaska Department of Health and Social Services

About 8,000 households have applied for rent or mortgage relief from pandemic-related economic trouble. The Alaska Housing Finance Corporation took applications through the month of June and has started paying out grants to keep people in their homes.

Interior Alaska landlords and banks will get about three quarters of a million dollars in rent and mortgage payments in the next weeks.

To keep Alaskans from becoming homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic, the state housing authority offered this one-time assistance. The funding for the program comes from $10 million dollars of the $1.5 billion the state received in federal CARES Act funding.

The program is run through the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation – AHFC. Stacey Barnes is a spokeswoman for the state agency.

“The grants go directly to the landlords and to the mortgage companies.”

Barnes says the agency had a two-week application period, but decided NOT to use a first-come, first-served approach, because that doesn’t always work for Alaska.

“Where, because of internet connectivity, or someone might be out on a boat, they wouldn’t have the ability to apply.”

AHFC accepted the 8,000 applications, then randomized them. Each application is checked for eligibility -- families who have lost income due to the pandemic, and are now at less than 80 percent of their area median income. In Fairbanks area median income is roughly $74,500.

AHFC staffers are working through that pile.

“So we’ve started that process, and we’ve started issuing checks, but we’re also still in the verification stage. So about a quarter of the people have been contacted at this point. We’ve got a significant number to go, but do intend to get the majority of those payments out before September 1st.”

Combining the Fairbanks North Star Borough, Healy, Delta Junction and Tok, there were 582 applications. AHFC plans to pay out all of them with $698,400.

But they are one-time payments, and most applicants will get about one-month’s worth of relief. It won’t keep covering missed rent or mortgage payments.

“For those who may have missed the opportunity in this, we’re encouraging Alaskans to call 2-1-1. They’ve got the best information, right now, about what else might be available in their community.”