Advocates in Nevada were influential in the recent allocation of $50 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) for residential and commercial rental assistance. The rental assistance allocation was announced simultaneously with Emergency Directive 025, a gradual lifting of the statewide eviction moratorium that bans until September 1 evictions of residential tenants for non-payment or no cause. The Nevada Housing Coalition, an NLIHC state partner, was instrumental in ensuring housing was a priority in the state’s response to COVID-19 by hosting statewide webinars and connecting key stakeholders to effectively establish the rental assistance program.
The residential rental relief program received $30 million and will launch in July. It will serve tenants earning up to 120% of area median income (AMI) on a first-come, first-served basis. Applicants are also required to have less than $3,000 of liquid household resources and must not receive federal housing vouchers. The rental assistance program is designed to provide multiple months of overdue rent directly to landlords. $10 million of the residential rental relief funds will be distributed through the Nevada Rural Housing Authority and Reno Housing Authority, while the state has committed the remaining $20 million to Clark County. Clark County, which contains Las Vegas, committed $30 million from its allocation of CRF to its rental assistance program in partnership with community action groups. The remaining $20 million of the $50 million CRF rental assistance allocation is designated for a commercial rental assistance program. It will prioritize businesses with the sharpest drops in revenue and that are women- or minority-owned.
The Nevada Housing Coalition played a key role in bringing housing issues to the forefront of Nevada’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Last month, the coalition sent a letter to Governor Sisolak urging him to prioritize housing needs in the state’s coronavirus relief programs. The Nevada Housing Coalition coordinated statewide webinars to emphasize the need for housing assistance and to bring together key stakeholders, including Nevada State Treasurer Zach Conine, who led the state’s housing response, and U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen. The coalition communicated regularly with ey stakeholders, participated in Clark County’s recovery team, and supported collaboration between state and local government. This advocacy proved effective: across Nevada, there is consistency in eligibility for the assistance with intentional coordination.
Estimates indicate that the statewide rental assistance program could assist 8,300 renters but that 118,000-142,000 households throughout the state could struggle to pay rent in the coming months. “This was a team effort by so many and a big win for Nevada’s renters. We anticipate that we will need a lot more funding with the severe economic damage Nevada is facing but this puts important mechanisms in place for future distribution,” said Christine Hess, Nevada Housing Coalition executive director.