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Affordable Housing advocates push lawmakers for action

MGN Online

BOISE, Idaho (KIFI) - Idaho’s Affordable Housing advocates are urging the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee and the state legislature to act quickly on emergency rental assistance funds. 39 agencies signed a letter to lawmakers Monday.

Idaho was allocated $164 million in the most recent federal relief package to help Idahoans who have been financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The advocates say that funding will play a pivotal part in ensuring those people are stably and safely housed through 2021.

Approval of the full allocation has been delayed. The advocates say continued delay or failure to approve the funding will result in “devastating consequences for Idaho’s renters, landlords, and the economy.”

“We speak to community members in southeastern Idaho every day who are desperate to stay in their homes,” said United Way of Southeastern Idaho Community Resources Director Amy Wuest. “These are skilled workers and families who, through no fault of their own, have fallen on hard times due to factors beyond their control related to the novel coronavirus pandemic. While we understand the complex political landscape that our elected officials are trying to navigate, we urge them to think of all of the community members at risk of eviction or homelessness. Without this funding, the effects of hardship will ripple throughout our region, making a dire situation even worse for thousands of hard working Idahoans.” 

A group analysis of U.S. Census data estimates that 34,000 Idaho households are at risk of eviction or homelessness. A recent report released by the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy found an estimated $118.5 million to $148.5 million in rental assistance will be needed to ensure every Idaho family most severely impacted by the economic crisis can be stably housed through June 2021. The report also includes estimates from the National Low Income Housing Coalition suggesting that eviction-related homelessness occurring as a result of lack of access to rental assistance in Idaho could cost Idaho taxpayers between $172 million and $412 million. 

You can view the group’s letter to legislators here.

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