Worried about paying rent? Rental assistance is available for many in Washington

KING COUNTY, Wash. -- Some leaders are calling on the government to freeze all rent and mortgages moving forward, but as of Tuesday, no decision has been made.

So the reality is that so many are at a loss on how they will pay rent and mortgage starting on Wednesday.

Living inside a cramped apartment, Ifra Khan tries to get in quick walks with her 9-year-old daughter Zuha.

“It’s kind of taking it day by day,” Khan said.

And on this day, what she is most worried about is how the rent will get paid.

“I’ve let my apartment complex know that all I can do is partial rent, my rent is $1,600,” Khan said.

Before COVID-19 turned things upside down, Khan, a single mom, was financially stable, doing multiple jobs including owning a mobile notary business.

“I’ve got a kid who is asthmatic and I can’t compromise her health and go and meet with clients,” Khan said.

Being an independent contractor and a small business owner, the Renton mom does not qualify for unemployment benefits.

“Right now it’s kind of just in flight or fight, and right now we are fighting, we want to figure out the best way to get through it,” Khan said.

So many are in her position, and United Way of King County will become a lifeline for many by next week because UWKC is handing out rental assistance.

“We are trying to keep the criteria for it relatively low barrier so we can help as many people as possible,” Senior Director Lauren McGowan said.

McGowan says the first priority will be to help renters in King County who can’t make April’s rent due to impacts from COVID-19.

UWKC says they have raised millions but they need so much more.

If you can give, they are asking you to donate here.

“There is a critical up and down stream that’s affected when rent is not paid,” said State Rep. Andrew Barkis.

Barkis, a Lacey Republican who also runs a property management business, is calling on the government to hand out rental vouchers in these unprecedented times.  He says renters are not the only ones in desperate times.

“They have mortgages and responsibilities they have to pay, many landlords are those relying on that rent for their source of income, for older people who rely on $1,200 to pay medical bills,” Barkis said.

Khan agrees that it should not be a renter vs. landlord issue.

“Everyone is struggling right now. We have to stick together. If you can make the payments make the payments, if you can’t, communicate or make what you can instead of saying I am not going to make anything at all,” Khan said.

United Way says if you are outside of King County you can call 211 for information on rental assistance and other needs.

The application process for UWKC’s rental assistance is not up on their website yet but it will be starting next week. They say once you apply, funds should be given out quickly.