The need for rent relief in King County is staggeringly large.
The need for rent relief in King County is staggeringly large. BLOKHIN / GETTYIMAGES.COM

On Friday morning United Way of King County announced a new $5 million program to pay April rent for people with the lowest incomes in the county. By Saturday at noon they had received more than double the number of applicants they can service with current funds. Though the nonprofit is still taking applications until 5 p.m. today, they anticipate they'll have to close the portal tonight "until we get more funding," said spokesperson Cesar Canizales.

According to the organization, 4,120 applications had been submitted by Saturday. Seventy-four percent of the applicants were people of color, 65% of the applicants supported kids under age 18, and 30% requested follow-up materials in languages other than English.

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People applied from all over the county, but 37% came from Seattle.

Nearly 200 applicants reported they were currently experiencing homelessness, with 45 now in hotels or motels, and 36 sleeping outside.

Here is the data United Way currently has on applicants:

• Total applications submitted: 4,120

o 1,530 from City of Seattle
o 371 Kent
o 270 Federal Way
o 262 Renton
o 191 Bellevue
o 145 Auburn
o 130 Burien
o 120 SeaTac
o 107 Tukwila
o 74 Des Moines
o 67 Shoreline
o 65 Kirkland
o 40 Issaquah
o The rest from balance of King County

• 74% of applicants are People of Color

• 2,692 households have children under 18

• 1,228 people completed the application and requested follow up in a language other than English which our agency partners will be able to do

• 380 applications from college students

• 241 Community College Students are being screened for United Way Bridge To Finish / College Completion Rent Assistance Program and other resources

• 187 currently experiencing homelessness and will be connected to diversion or other resources
o 45 in hotel /motels
o 36 outside

Canizales said United Way has seen an uptick in donations since launching the program. Before Friday's announcement, daily donations averaged nearly $8,000. The day the program launched, they took in a little over $27,500.

But this amount is not nearly enough. United Way expects King County residents may require "millions more" in rental assistance this month and in the coming months. "The need is huge, and we hear May will be worse," Canizales said. "We need the governor to extend the eviction moratoriums, so families have some breathing room," he added.

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Canizales anticipates that some money will come from the federal government at some point, though that money will likely be unavailable to undocumented workers, who have been laid off in large numbers without access to benefits, and who face evictions despite the statewide moratorium.

Funding for rental assistance and food from United Way is distributed without any restrictions on immigration status, and Canizales said private donations can help supplement federal money that comes with status strings attached to it.

In the meantime, United Way is "actively" trying to raise more funds to help as many people as they can. You can donate to provide April rental assistance or food relief here.

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