An estimated 34,000 Idahoans behind on their rent could soon get some help from the feds.
Idaho House lawmakers passed a bill Friday to let state officials spend $175 million in COVID-19 relief money toward rental and utility assistance. The cash would go directly to landlords and utility providers.
This is the first major action by the Idaho legislature on the $900 million Congress set aside for the state in its latest coronavirus relief package, as reported by the Idaho Press.
Rep. Paul Amador (R-Coeur d’Alene) said the pandemic has affected low-income residents harder than others.
“And they are facing a difficult path forward and I think this provides them some stability to move forward,” Amador said.
The state estimates Idahoans are behind on their rent by $73 million to $103 million, with utility providers reporting a 20% increase in past due accounts, according to Amador.
Some of the more conservative Republicans struggled with their vote.
Rep. Vito Barbieri (R-Dalton Gardens) said he’s opposed to the feds adding to the national debt.
“This is concerning and yet we have no choice, morally, but to make sure that the government makes whole that which it has hurt,” Barbieri said.
Renters would only be eligible if they make below 80% of the median income in their area. They also must spend more than a quarter of their income on housing and must prove they’ve been directly hurt economically by the pandemic.
The bill still needs Senate approval.
Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.
Copyright 2021 Boise State Public Radio
Member support is what makes local COVID-19 reporting possible. Support this coverage here.