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Rent assistance still in high demand in Clark County

The pandemic may be waning somewhat. But the need for help paying the rent is not letting up, and in Clark county, aid continues to pour out to struggling families.

VANCOUVER, Wash. — The pandemic has taken its toll on our neighbors, including those in Clark County.

“Thinking back in March of 2020, the scope of this was unimaginable in many ways,” said Sunny Wonder, who is in charge of a rental assistance program, as diversion director at the nonprofit Council for the Homeless.

The organization, along with others, distributes federal money that is funneled through the county to keep people in their homes. Wonder said the need is still great. “So we have created a pretty well-oiled machine from that perspective, so that we can make that process as stress-free, knowing that so many of these folks have so many other things they're dealing with.”

County wide, the numbers get your attention. So far, $29.5 million dollars has gone out in financial assistance. The funding has helped nearly 3,800 households, paying for more than 31,000 months of rent and utilities since August 2020.

RELATED: Washington's eviction moratorium bridge expires

Wendy Welton of Vancouver is one of the thousands who has needed help. In her case, she'd stopped working to care for an ailing mother and sister. Her mom Diane died in May and her sister, Christie, died in September.

“A close friend of mine told me that it's ok to reach out and ask for help.  And I am so glad that I did because I can grieve without worrying about how I'm going to pay my rent,” said Welton.

For every case, there is a unique reason for needing help. But on a larger scale, the economy was negatively impacted by the pandemic and many workers from low-income households are way behind and struggling.

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Wonder said the end of Washington's eviction moratorium didn't help that.

“I think for me and our team the motivation is to recognize that folks are in crisis, we're hearing a lot of stories from folks who never expected to be in this situation.”  

And that includes people like Welton.

“It's really crazy, you know, it's really sad. And I know that I'll be able to give back one day and that is exactly what I plan on doing,” said Welton.  

For now, the rent assistance money is still flowing. However, it goes fast. Last week, 800 spots filled in a half hour. But there are other dates with opportunities to apply for rent assistance if you are a new applicant.  Those dates are as follows:

• Wednesday, Nov. 17, beginning at noon
• Wednesday, Dec. 1, beginning at 6 pm
• Wednesday, Dec. 15, beginning at noon
• Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022, beginning at noon

For more information visit the Council for the Homeless rental assistance page.