Feb 18, 2021 - News

Polk County to launch new rental assistance program

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

A major new rent assistance program will launch next week for Polk County residents who are struggling, Eric Kool, director of Polk's Community, Family and Youth Services told Axios.

The state of play: The Emergency Rental Assistance Program will be paid by a $14 million federal allocation to DSM and Polk County for pandemic relief. It's part of a larger $195 million relief package for Iowa.

The money will be distributed through IMPACT — an organization that helps low-income families in central Iowa. The assistance can help cover:

  • Back rent from April 2020 to present.
  • Future rent for up to three months.
  • Utilities.

The application process will begin Monday via phone, 515-518-4770. Visit the IMPACT website for more details, including eligibility requirements.

  • People who live outside Polk County may also qualify. Go to the Iowa Finance Authority online or call 855-300-5885.

Context: It sounds like a lot of money but the need is massive. Iowans owe at least $36 million in overdue utility bills and $114 million in rent, the Des Moines Register reports.

Of note: This will be the primary rent assistance program in the county for the near future, Kool said.

  • The Justice Center — a temporary pandemic eviction prevention program started last year with Polk County Housing Trust Fund and Iowa Legal Aid — is ending operations this month. (Those groups will guide people seeking assistance to the new program.)

This story first appeared in the Axios Des Moines newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


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