Borough to offer housing relief to residents in unincorporated areas

Eligible residents may receive up to $1,200.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough will partner with the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) to use up to $2 million in CARES Act money to provide housing relief to borough residents who live outside of the six incorporated cities, following a unanimous vote by the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in support last Tuesday.

Eligible residents may receive up to $1,200 for the months of September, October, November and December of this year. Payments will be sent to the lender or landlord, not to the applicant. According to Borough Community and Fiscal Projects Manager Brenda Ahlberg, award amounts average about $850 per month. This means the borough will potentially assist more than 500 households with rent and mortgage payments if they receive the average amount for all four months.

In order to be eligible for the program, applicants must not be already receiving housing assistance from the state, must make less than $72,000 annually and must have a loss of income due to COVID-19.

Funds allocated for the program that are left over are able to be awarded to nonprofit organizations who have homeless or temporary housing programs. Each organization will be able to receive up to $200,000.

The program, which was presented to the council as Resolution 2020-070, was sponsored by Tyson Cox, Hal Smalley and Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce. Cox and assembly member Willy Dunne were determined to have conflicts of interest regarding the legislation and were not allowed to vote.

Cox, who owns and manages rental properties in unincorporated borough areas, said that he has no control over who applies for the grant or when they apply. Cox also said that many of his tenants already receive state housing assistance, meaning they would not be eligible to apply for the program.

The assembly received one public comment via email in support of the resolution from Brian Smith, of Homer, who said that they live just outside of Homer city limits and are ineligible for the city’s relief funding.

“I have been unable to qualify for other programs and am truly living ‘on the edge’ here. And I know I am not alone,” Smith said. “Whatever relief the Borough could provide for Individuals and Households would, I think, be both appropriate and a great help.”

The program will go live once the agreement between the borough and AHFC is finalized, however interested applicants should check starting Oct. 21.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at