Rebound Idaho: Avoiding eviction amid COVID-19 and Idaho's statewide affordable housing crisis

Posted at 9:05 PM, Jun 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-18 00:22:38-04

IDAHO — The economic downturn due to the coronavirus resulted in record-high unemployment this spring, causing many Idahoans to struggle -- especially when it comes to paying expensive bills like rent and utilities. So how bad is the problem, and what are some resources?

“What we are noticing is an increased number of calls from people who are not on our program, who are desperate to get on the waiting list,” said Deanna Watson, executive director of Boise City/Ada County Housing Authorities.

But the waiting list for Section 8 voucher rental assistance, sadly, remains closed. That is -- until housing authorities are given more federal funding for it.

“My hope had been at the beginning of this that there would be additional vouchers — a significant number of additional vouchers coming to communities. That has not been the form of assistance that has come so far,” said Watson.

But one group that has gotten funding, that could possibly help, is the Idaho Housing and Finance Association. Their Housing Preservation Program, available only to renters, provides short-term rent and utility support. You can apply for that here.

“That’s a temporary resource for people who are in danger of losing their housing for reasons directly related to the coronavirus,” said Watson.

While it’s estimated that about a third of people rent their housing in Idaho, and unemployment hit a record high in April, Watson said they aren’t seeing a big jump in evictions -- yet.

“But part of that is a lot of families got stimulus funds.”

But in coming months she says they expect to see "a lineup in the courts of folks being evicted" for inability to pay their rent.

Nonprofits like Jesse Tree are here to help. They provide emergency financial support to those at risk of eviction.

St. Vincent de Paul of Southwest Idaho is another resource for Idahoans with a sudden need for rent or utility support.

To be connected with more resources in your area, call 211 for Idaho Care Line.

Also, be sure to join our Rebound Idaho Facebook page at the link on your screen to be connected with members of the community for support, solutions and our reports which aim to help you stay afloat during this uncertain time.