FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — A little over a month ago, the city of Fort Wayne opened up applications for their Emergency Rental Assistance program to people struggling financially in the pandemic but with another round of bills looming over their shoulders, most of the applicants are still waiting for approval.
According to Kelly Lundberg, director of the Office of Housing and Neighborhood Services, only about 200 of the more than 2,000 applications have been approved. While every submitted application has been under the initial review, the process has moved slower than hoped because the city had not anticipated so many applications to come in right after opening the program up. Slowing things down even further is the fact that they are having to reach out and ask for additional information and documents on many of the applications.
“One common issue that we’re seeing is people are giving us some income documentation but it’s not exactly what we need,” said Lundberg. “We need two months’ worth, and a lot of times we’re getting four or five weeks’ worth and so then we have to follow up and ask for a little more.”
Applicants must also include documented proof of past-due bills and of financial hardship as well as a Landlord Attestation form and proof of residence. The city has had to deny some applications because the residents in question live outside of city limits. However, Lundberg said in those cases they point people to a state assistance program.
If you have applied and would like to check the status of your application, Lundberg recommends you contact the partner agency you went through, or call the number listed on the program website. She also urged people to be patient as the number of applications increases a little bit every day. At last check, over 1,000 more applications were in various stages of completeness.
Lundberg also said that people should not worry about the program running out of money before their application is approved. The program was established with an initial $8.1 million dollars in funding from the CARES Act funding, and the city is already set to receive more money on top of that for the program. Those extra funds could come as early as next month.
The extra funding likely will mean that the program will run the rest of the year, so Lundberg encourages people to continue applying and to reach out so that they can complete their applications.
“It’s a feel-good moment to when you can hit approve on the approved button on an application where you see somebody owes several $1,000 in back rent because you know that
help is on the way,” said Lundberg.
Residents who qualify must:
- Rent within Fort Wayne City limits
- Have a household income at or below 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI), which is $56,900 or less for a family of four
- Be experiencing financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic