Phoenix emergency rental assistance program gets expanded hours, more employees

The city of Phoenix is making changes to its rental assistance program to speed up the process and help get that money to those who need it.

Since March, they've assisted close to 5,000 households and they hope to help more as quickly as possible.

The pandemic has been tough for many Phoenix residents with thousands concerned about getting evicted if help doesn't come fast enough.

To help expedite getting the ERA funding to those who need it, the city of Phoenix Family Services Center is now open Monday through Saturday, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

"Each week, clients can access our services by calling us, and now with our expanded hours, it will allow for more opportunities for city of Phoenix residents to be able to obtain those services," said Frank Berry, Jr., a casework supervisor.

With the additional hours and days per week, the city began hiring for 50 additional positions in August to assist with the program.

"To try to make it easier for the residents to have more available appointments to be able to expend the funds."

So far, the city has disbursed more than $37 million from the $51 million allocated in March of this year.

An average of $2 million a week is being dispersed through the program, which is up from $1 million a week back in April and May.

Berry says those who may be eligible are those who have been impacted by COVID-19.

"If they are on unemployment, maybe if they lost their job due to schools being closed and the parents were not able to work. That's when they call in and a caseworker will meet with them to assess the situation to see if they're eligible. So they'll know pretty quick, usually at the time of appointment."

The ERA program is available to renters regardless of citizenship or immigration status.

"That's what we're here for and what the funds are for to help people. It's real rewarding to be able to help people that have been impacted by COVID-19.

The new changes will be in effect for at least a year. To find out if you're eligible for funding, head to the city's website.

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