By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
On Wednesday, Gov. Mark Gordon signed legislation that officially launched the federal emergency rental assistance program in Wyoming.
The program will use $200 million in federal funding to cover rent and utility costs for Wyomingites struggling financially due to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
Gordon signed an executive order in February directing the Wyoming Department of Family Services to create the administrative infrastructure for the program so funds could be distributed quickly upon passage of this authorizing legislation.
“We have seen the need for this stabilizing relief since the federal government created this program in December,” Gordon said. “I’m pleased to sign this important legislation, which follows my executive order, authorizing the state to responsibly and efficiently administer these funds to Wyoming renters and landlords.”
Senate File 118 authorized DFS to administer the program, which is open to Wyoming renters who meet income eligibility requirements, are struggling to pay rent and/or utilities because of the pandemic and can demonstrate they are experiencing housing instability.
Applications are scheduled to open online at 8 a.m. on April 29 at dfs.wyo.gov/erap.
DFS has created a platform that will quickly process household applications and eligible payments. Local nonprofits will also receive program funding from DFS, so eligible households can receive help with their applications, as well as a range of other housing stability services.
DFS, along with the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, is administering the program, which is managed by a multi-agency Steering Committee.
“We are very thankful to Governor Gordon and the Wyoming Legislature for giving us the opportunity to help families who rent their home to avoid homelessness while recovering from the impacts of the pandemic,” Department of Family Services Director Korin Schmidt said. “The program also will help landlords, many of whom are small businesses, avoid financial difficulties when their renters cannot pay.”