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State expects much more funding for rent assistance if relief bill is signed

Delaware Public Media

Rental assistance in Delaware threatened to run up against a spending deadline this month. But the state expects to be able to use it all, and have much more funding to help with rent in the new year.


The Delaware State Housing Authority has given out about $10 million in rental assistance to more than 3,000 applicants so far this year. The agency has another $4 million in assistance pending for roughly 2,000 renters. 

At one point the state worried it wouldn’t be able to give out all the federal COVID relief money it had committed to rental assistance by the Dec. 30 deadline, but Delaware State Housing Authority Director Anas Ben Addi says it is on track to do so. However, Ben Addi says another $20 million of New Castle County’s CARES Act money available for rent assistance has not been spent. 

The relief package that passed Congress Monday would extend the deadline to spend this money. And it also earmarks $25 billion more for rental assistance. 

Ben Addi says Delaware would likely receive about $200 million of that—more than ten times the rental assistance it has moved so far. 

“The good thing about the program is we have until, I believe, Oct. 2022 to allocate the funding,” he said. “We have also the flexibility to use it not only for rent relief but also other supportive services, like rent counselling, legal services and utility payments.”

The total rent deficit in Delaware could be between $20 million and $38 million, according to estimates prepared for the National Council of State Housing Agencies by STOUT based on surveys taken last month.

Ben Addi expects the Delaware Housing Assistance Program (DEHAP) will need to pause for a few weeks while officials figure out eligibility and reporting guidelines for the new money. 

“There may be additional documents, but we don’t believe that families that have been eligible for this DEHAP now won’t be eligible, because it seems like the income limit of 80 percent of the area median income could be used for both programs,” Ben Addi said.

Applicants to the current DEHAP program must also provide documentation showing an impact on employment or income related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The future of the federal coronavirus relief package is less certain now. President Trump asked Congress Tuesday night to amend the bill to increase the direct payments and cut what he called “unnecessary” items.

Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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