CHEYENNE — Governor Mark Gordon issued an executive order to allow the Wyoming Department of Family Services to begin its preparations for administering the federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
This allows Wyoming to prepare its distribution plan for this program while providing the opportunity to work with the legislature on details before launching the program.
“The need for this program cannot be understated, but it requires significant work to run it effectively and that’s what begins now,” Gordon said. “Wyoming’s network of nonprofit and community service organizations continue to report statistics demonstrating Wyomingites’ need for relief during this global pandemic and historic recession. I look forward to working with legislators to launch this program.”
The federal government has provided the state with $200 million in funding to cover rent and utility costs for Wyomingites struggling financially due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wyoming 2-1-1 reports a 280% increase in calls for rental assistance in 2020. Similarly, a county relief agency reported providing financial assistance to 349 area families unable to cover rent in the final quarter of 2020, even though 77% of such households were at least partially employed.
At the same time, many Wyoming landlords are left with unpaid back rent, and in some cases, utility bills left unpaid by struggling tenants. This program covers that back rent for landlords and reimburses utility companies the unpaid bills, which can benefit all ratepayers.
Getting the Word Out
The Department of Family Services intends to work alongside a coalition of state entities and community stakeholders to ensure that every eligible Wyomingite knows about and has access to the program. Specifically, the Department of Workforce Services will play an integral role in both the current planning stage and the program’s implementation.
Gordon says he looks forward to working with the Wyoming Legislature when it reconvenes in March to take the final steps in implementing this program.
Applications for relief are not available at this time. Once an application process is in place, the Department of Family Services, the Department of Workforce Services, and stakeholders will publicize that process.
In the meantime, comments about how the program should operate may be emailed to RentalAssistance@wyo.gov.
The executive order is attached and can be found on the Governor’s website.