City of Knoxville announces new COVID-19 rent and mortgage assistance program

Knoxville, Tenn. (WATE) – The City of Knoxville announced on Monday that a new program has been created to help residents pay their overdue bills after historic job losses due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The city received $1.55 million under the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

RELATED: Coronavirus: Knoxville program to help tenants and landlords make payments

The majority of these funds will be used to help residents if they have been unable to pay their rent or mortgage due to job or income loss due to COVID-19.

Becky Wade, the city Director of Housing and Neighborhood Developmentsaid after receiving several calls from residents since businesses closed due to the pandemic, the city knew where those funds were most needed.

“We felt that housing assistance was a real need that was not met to the point necessary. And with so many people losing their jobs, being laid off, or themselves being sick and unable to work, we felt this was a way for the city to help households with those expenses,” said Wade.

Only residents of Knoxville are eligible for housing assistance, but not all residents who have lost their jobs or whose incomes have declined are eligible.

According to Wade, financial assistance is available to those earning up to 80% of the region’s median income and who have lost their job or income due to COVID-19, or who have been diagnosed and/or put in quarantine with COVID-19 and are unable to work.

The city has created a table detailing income limits per household, which can be viewed on the city’s website. website here.

For example, a two-person household would be eligible if the two combined incomes totaled less than $47,300 on April 1.

Funds can be used for past rent or mortgage payments, current rent or mortgage payments, and overdue utility bills.

“If someone couldn’t make their utility payments from April or May, even though KUB stopped shutting down utilities, those bills are still there and so people still have to make those payments,” Wade said.

Wade said the best way to find out if someone is eligible for housing assistance, or to apply, is to call 2-1-1 or visit 211.org.

She said the payments would not go directly into the pockets of the tenant or landlord. Payments will be made directly to the landlord, mortgage agent or utility provider.

Applicants who are currently in receipt of housing allowance which is rent based on income (i.e. KCDC/public housing and Section 8 voucher), will not be eligible for housing payment assistance. rent/mortgage, but may be entitled to utility debts if their utility bill is in their name and not included in their rent.