By Radio Iowa Contributor
A federally funded program is ending soon that’s helped some 17,000 Iowans stay in their homes with the lights on.
In addition to paying for back rent, the Iowa Finance Authority’s Rent and Utility Assistance Program has higher income barriers, opening it to many more Iowans than comparable rent assistance programs. Lynette Jacoby, director of social services in Johnson County, says the challenge will be to find programs that can fill the gap.
“We know though at the local level that there isn’t funding,” Jacoby says. “We can’t fill a gap of $350,000 a month in rental assistance.” Jacoby said the program’s $170 million impact was not just for residents, but also for landlords who would have lost income from emptied units or the eviction process.
The Iowa Finance Authority says the program will stop accepting new applicants at the end of August, following the national trend of dialing back COVID-era assistance programs. Luke Elzinga works at DMARC, which runs a network of food pantries in the Des Moines area. He says when people have fewer resources to cover rent, they’ll have to make it up somewhere else.
“A lot of the time, people will make sure their rent is paid first so they can remain housed and then figure out how they’re going to feed themselves,” Elzinga says. “That oftentimes looks like turning to a food pantry.” The program ends as DMARC, like other food pantries, was already reporting record levels of demand for food assistance.