The money should help mollify some landlords for at least a month.
The money should help mollify some landlords for at least a month, and bring relief to renters. ABLOKHIN / GETTYIMAGES.COM

Pardon the following means-tested-to-death sentence, but on Friday morning officials from the United Way of King County, Seattle, and the County itself announced they will help pay April rent for people making up to 50% of the area median income who "are economically impacted by COVID-19" and who fell behind on rent.

Those officials estimate this program will help 2,000 families not accrue rent debt for the month.

Here's what the monthly income at 50% of AMI looks like:

1 Person: up to $3,483
2 Persons: up to $3,983
3 Persons: up to $4,479
4 Persons: up to $4,975
5 Persons: up to $5,375
6 Persons: up to $5,775
7 Persons: up to $6,171
8 Persons: up to $6,571

If your household's monthly income looks like that, then sign up for assistance here, or call 2-1-1. Translation services are available through that phone number.

The money should come "days after applying," Gordon McHenry, Jr., president and CEO of United Way of King County, said in a press conference Friday morning.

Undocumented immigrants, who are getting particularly screwed at the moment, can access this funding, and the money can be used for any kind of rental contract—formal or informal. "Please don't let formality or structure stop a person" from applying, McHenry added.

The $5 million in funding for this comes from an "expansion" of United Way's Home Base program, with Seattle throwing in $1 million from the Office of Housing, King County pulling $1.5 million from the Veteran's levy, the Seattle Foundation throwing in $1.5 million, and a handful of big businesses contributing the rest.

Funds will be administered by Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, Wellspring Family Services, Solid Ground and Open Doors for Multicultural Families. So after you apply and qualify, those are the organizations that will end up paying your landlord.

During the presser, King County Executive Dow Constantine said "we know our combined efforts won't meet the need," and he called on federal and state governments to "get this housing insecurity issue the attention it urgently needs."

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan argued that "we need something greater than the new deal" to help this.

The National Multifamily Housing Council estimates that one-third of rental households did not pay the rent this month.

Some of that need can be mitigated by extended and expanded unemployment benefits on offer from U.S. House Democrats, but help for the struggling undocumented population can only come from state and local governments at the moment.

The current federal stimulus only runs through July, but it guarantees $600 per week on top of the normal benefit for people who've been laid off. The benefit also extends to independent contractors, though that money won't start rolling in until the end of next week.

Both Congress and the White House agree on the need for another stimulus package, but when they strike a deal is anybody's guess.

In the meantime, Democrats are pushing out their policy priorities. On Friday morning Seattle Rep. Pramila Jayapal introduced the Paycheck Guarantee Act, which would "cover 100% of wages for workers earning salaries up to $100,000" even for furloughed workers, keep everybody on their employer-sponsored benefits, and cover "essential business expenses like rent."

Two weeks ago, U.S. House Reps. Denny Heck and Derek Kilmer proposed the Emergency Rental Assistance Act of 2020, which would provide $100 billion to a federal grant program that offers short-term rental assistance over the course of the next four months to people making 80% of area median income.

But for now, 10 days after rent was due, one month's rent will be covered for some of the lowest-income families in King County.