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State Housing Authority to pause rental assistance program to avoid depleting funding

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Delaware Public Media
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Delaware’s pandemic-era rental assistance program is pausing intake for the second time in the past six months to avoid expending the program's funding faster than intended.

The Delaware Housing Assistance Program (DEHAP) launched with federal funding in 2021 to help renters struggling to pay rent or utilities during the pandemic.

So far, the Delaware State Housing Authority has distributed $122 million in assistance to nearly 22,000 Delawareans through the program. Housing Authority spokesperson Laurie Jacobs says that demand isn’t receding. At the current pace, she says, funding intended to last until 2025 could be exhausted much earlier, so her agency will temporarily stop taking new applications on January 2.

"This program closure will allow us to work through existing applications now and project how much farther we can go with this program," she said.

The pause could last as much as several months, and it will impact both those applying for assistance for the first time and those currently receiving assistance who need to apply for recertification after January 2. Those facing emergencies, including imminent eviction or homelessness, can still seek assistance through DSHA’s Community Navigators. Meanwhile, the agency will process the 5,000 applications for assistance currently in its pipeline.

DSHA is also considering its options for transitioning DHAP recipients to other housing assistance programs once the federal emergency funding runs out. “We are also using this program closure to firm up and find alternative resources so people who are facing eviction or facing homelessness can still find help paying their rent," Jacobs said.

The State Housing Authority also runs a separate voucher program that predates the pandemic; like DEHAP, vouchers provided through that program go directly to landlords.

The agency previously paused the program at the end of September to transition from one batch of federal funding to the next.

Paul Kiefer comes to Delaware from Seattle, where he covered policing, prisons and public safety for the local news site PubliCola.