Families struggling to pay their rent and utility bills due to the COVID-19 pandemic can reach out for help to the Utah Housing Assistance program but need to be quick: the program is currently set to expire at the end of December.

For residents of Grand, San Juan, Emery and Carbon counties, the housing assistance program is administered by the Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments. The program is designed to aid renters whose household income is at or below area median income levels who have experienced a loss of income or financial hardship related to COVID-19. The program can pay up to $2,000 a month of expenses through December 2020, including unpaid utility bills and back rent owed from prior months since the pandemic began.

SEUALG program director Renee Raso said that the sooner applications are in, the better, and encouraged potential applicants to go ahead and call or email her.

“It has been a hard time for people and we just want to help people however we can,” she said. “Even if you’re not sure if you qualify, reach out to me.”

Raso said that when a potential applicant makes contact with her, she will provide them with an application. Applicants will also need to fill out a self-declaration of income, sign an assistance contract and may also need to provide utility bills.

To be eligible, an applicant must declare that they have been financially harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic. This could be a loss or reduction of income or costs incurred because of the pandemic.

Raso said the persons that have contacted her to apply for the rental assistance program have been affected in several different ways:

“Some people have had their hours cut … or been laid off...And a lot of people now have gotten COVID, or been exposed to COVID and have to quarantine,” she said.

While program administrators may ask for backup documentation, a statement from the applicant as to income and COVID impact is all that is required to apply.

For those who are eligible, rent monies will be paid directly to the rental property owner and utility fees directly to the utility companies.

This program is open to Utah residents regardless of immigration documentation status.

More information may be found at https://rentrelief.utah.gov. Raso may be reached by calling 435-613-0067 or by email at rraso@seualg.utah.gov.