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Idaho's homeless services may face fiscal cliff as COVID federal funds run out

Eviction filings are rising even as rents spike and inflation cuts deeper into household budgets.
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Eviction filings are rising even as rents spike and inflation cuts deeper into household budgets.

Housing assistance funding provided by the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan Act is running out, which could affect already rising evictions in the Treasure Valley.

The eviction prevention nonprofit Jesse Tree received 3.4 million dollars in federal money during the COVID-19 pandemic. Executive director Ali Rabe said that money has been vital to preventing families from sliding into homelessness.

“We do think that these federal funds have prevented some evictions but the demand for rental assistance has drastically increased despite these funds,” Rabe said, “so when they run out, we're anticipating even more demand and even more evictions.”

Rabe says evictions have doubled since last year and Jesse Tree has seen a 500% increase in applicants since 2020. She says housing costs are also 40% higher than at the start of the pandemic.

“More and more families are living paycheck to paycheck month to month and they are one expense away from eviction or homelessness,” she added. “These families are simply going to have less community resources to access to stabilize them when they need the help.”

Rabe says homelessness numbers in the Treasure Valley aren’t so bad that the community can’t get ahead of it, unlike many other cities around the country.

“But we need to really invest in prevention now before it's too late,” she said.

Rabe says it costs about $2,000 to keep people from losing their housing and about $12,000 to rehome them after eviction.

As the Canyon County reporter, I cover the Latina/o/x communities and agricultural hub of the Treasure Valley. I’m super invested in local journalism and social equity, and very grateful to be working in Idaho.

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