Worried About Rent? COVID Rental Assistance Applications Will Soon Reopen

AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

By Jessica Swarner

February 12, 2021

Applications for the state reopen Feb. 23, while those for Phoenix reopen March 8. 

Soon renters will be able to get the help many need to pay their rent. 

While government bodies made money available for COVID rental assistance last year, much of it has dried up. Applications for state and local aid closed as administrators waited for funds to be replenished. 

Congress passed a new aid package in December, including $25 billion for rent and utility help. 

This round of funding can provide up to 12 months of backpay. Once late payments are taken care of, renters can apply for help with future payments in three-month increments.

Eligible households must have at least one member who is financially impacted by COVID-19 or qualifies for unemployment, and they must make less than 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI). They must also be able to demonstrate that they are close to losing their home. 

Priority will go to families making less than half of the AMI and people who have been without a job because of the pandemic for more than three months. 

States received the new aid money last month and are now getting closer to beginning distribution.

Here’s where the process stands across Arizona: 

State Assistance 

The Arizona Department of Economic Security will begin taking applications on its website Feb. 23. 

The agency will distribute $289 million in aid received from the federal government for rental and utility assistance. 

Previously, applications went through the Arizona Department of Housing. 

All counties except Maricopa, Pima, and Yuma will coordinate with the agency to distribute funding. Those three counties opted to handle the process on their own. 

Families can apply through the state for up to $3,500 in rent and utility assistance per month. As with previous assistance, the money will be paid directly to the applicant’s landlord or utility company. 

Applicants have to demonstrate they are at risk of losing housing, that they have been financially impacted by COVID, and that their income falls below 80% of the AMI. 

County Assistance 

Maricopa Pima, and Yuma counties will distribute their latest rental assistance funds separate from the state. 

Fields Moseley, spokesperson for Maricopa County, told The Copper Courier that the county received $46.1 million for rental aid. Five cities—Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale, Mesa, and Phoenix—opted to distribute aid on their own. 

For the rest of the county, the tentative launch date for the new application portal is March 15. 

Pima County does not yet have a date for its applications to reopen, according to spokesperson Anthony Gimino, but tenants and landlords can sign up for updates here. Renters can currently apply to be placed on a waiting list.  

Kevin Tunell, spokesperson for Yuma County, wrote in an email to The Copper Courier that it plans to reopen applications March 1 but won’t be sure of the date until the end of this month. 

City Assistance

Residents of Mesa—one of the five cities distributing aid separately from Maricopa County—can begin applying for assistance now

Gilbert never closed its applications. Jean Moreno, the city’s director of community services, said renters can apply for aid right now on their website

Gilbert’s councilmembers are set to meet Feb. 16 to develop their plans, while Chandler will vote on a plan Feb. 25, according to The Arizona Republic

Renters in Phoenix will be able to start applying for rental relief by March 8. 

The $51.1 million in federal aid will be distributed through the Phoenix Human Services Department and the nonprofit Wildfire. 

Renters will be able to start applications through Wildfire’s website, by calling 602-534-AIDE, or visiting one of three in-person sites: the Sunnyslope Family Services Center, John F. Long Family Services Center in Maryvale, or the Travis L. Williams Family Services Center in south-central Phoenix. 

Tucson also opted to directly receive funds, separate from Pima County, but it will be using the same application link as the county. It’s unclear when that link will go live.

READ MORE: Received an Eviction Notice? Here Are Some Resources That May Help.


  • Jessica Swarner

    Jessica Swarner is the community editor for The Copper Courier. She is an ASU alumna and previously worked at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix.

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