Danville to receive additional coronavirus rescue package funding for housing assistance

Published 2:15 pm Monday, September 21, 2020

On Tuesday, Sept. 15, Sen. Mitch McConnell announced that Kentucky received an additional $14,017,978 for housing assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic, $25,178 of which is going toward Danville, according to a press release. The federal funding was distributed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and made available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, according to the release.

Gail Rice, director of the City of Danville’s Urban Renewal and Community Development, said the $25,178 is going to the Housing Choice Voucher Program, which Urban Renewal and Community Development operates and which Rice said was previously known as the Section Eight (8) program. The money will be used for rental assistance for families who have suffered job losses during the pandemic. The program is permitted to help 297 families. Rice said the program is down to 292 families, so it is short five families, and families can apply for the program by picking up an application and joining the waiting list for the program.

Rice said prior to the pandemic, the program’s tenants would normally have to provide documentation or other proof they lost their jobs to prove a decrease in their income, but due to the pandemic and social distancing, the office is closed to walk-in traffic, so there are waivers on requirements, so tenants can make a call or send an email stating they’ve been laid off due to COVID-19.

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Rice said the additional money for housing assistance will be beneficial for both tenants and landlords.

“It will help that we can pick up more of the rent since their income has been reduced, so it will help the tenant and the landlord both,” Rice said.

Rice said the funding is based on per-unit cost, which is the families’ total rent expense divided by the number of families, 297. To qualify for the additional funding, the per-unit cost had to increase by a certain percentage, which it did, so that is how the program is receiving the additional funding. Rice said the additional funding won’t impact everyone on the program because a lot of the tenants on the program receive Social Security benefits, the amount of which won’t change due to COVID-19, so their rental assistance amount they receive through the program will remain the same, but tenants on the program who were employed and lost their job can receive additional rental assistance due to the decrease in their income.

For example, Rice said, if the total rent per month for a tenant is $500 and prior to the pandemic the program were assisting the tenant with $200 each month while the tenant paid $300 per month, if the tenant lost their job due to the pandemic, with the additional funding the program could pay either the full $500 per month or, for example, increase its contribution each month for the tenant’s rent from $200 to $400. That way, Rice said, the tenant won’t have as much of a financial burden after the hit to their income, and landlords can be assured they will receive their rent.

According to the press release, this additional $14,017,978 in federal funds for housing assistance in Kentucky is awarded through HUD’s Community Development Block Grants and Regular Voucher Programs. According to the release, McConnell’s rescue legislation has delivered more than $112 million for housing assistance and development programs in Kentucky.