PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Gov. Doug Ducey announced a new rental assistance program Tuesday morning that's designed to provide financial assistance and housing stability.
The Emergency Rental Assistance Program will go through the Arizona Department of Economic Security office. The program will benefit residents in these counties: Apache, Cochise, Coconino, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, La Paz, Navajo, Santa Cruz, Pinal, Mohave, and Yavapai. Three counties -- Maricopa, Pima, and Yuma -- are not part of the program. According to a news release from Ducey's office, those three counties will be launching their own rental assistance programs, which is why they have not been included in the DES program.
“We want to make sure renters in Arizona have the resources and support they need,” said Gov. Ducey. “The rental assistance program will keep families and those in need in their homes and help them get back on their feet as we overcome the effects of the pandemic. We will continue to work closely with community and local government partners to efficiently deliver this relief.”
This is the type of relief package that can make a big difference for families. Anthea Seraphim-Porter and her family are a smiling bunch now that they are finally free from being constantly behind on rent payments.
"Dire straights is the perfect terminology to utilize," she said. "We didn't know what we were going to do."
Seraphim-Porter's husband lost his job and got very sick. Though their landlord was very understanding and accepted payments here and there, the family of three was behind by six or seven months.
"In the midst of the pandemic, we were actually facing eviction," Seraphim-Porter said.
However, through one of the various rental assistance packages, they got rent paid all the way through March 2021.
"It was a major blessing and absolutely set us up to just position ourselves so – maybe we can't get ahead, but we absolutely can be on task," Seraphim-Porter said.
Because she's all caught up, she's not going to apply for help this time around.
"We got our chance. We got our blessing. We had our turn. And I think when you get a hand up, one of the things that you have to do is set yourself up. Let somebody else have a turn. Let somebody else breathe," she said.
Renters who are struggling can apply for housing and utility assistance through the DES portal starting on Feb. 23. The website explains that eligible applicants can receive up to $3,500 per month to help with rent and utilities. Those who are behind in their payments going back to March 2020. Assistance payments will be issued to the landlord or utility service provider. DES has outlined the requirements for applicants on its website.