By Natalie Krebs, Iowa Public Radio
Democratic 3rd District Rep. Cindy Axne said hundreds of Polk County residents could face evictions if federal officials don’t approve additional funds for a rental assistance program.
Axne said county and state officials have approved the $35 million fund reallocation to Polk County under the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which assists those affected by the pandemic.
But she said the transfer has been waiting on approval from the U.S. Department of Treasury since late January, and her inquiries have gone unanswered.
“When we’re relying on bureaucrats to approve something that both our state and the county agree is the right choice, well, that’s when we have to start being a squeaky wheel.” Axne said Thursday during a press conference in her Des Moines office.
Axne said she’s concerned hundreds of Polk County residents could face eviction as the county’s first funding allocation – $30 million – will soon run out.
“The most important thing that we can be doing for families right now is keeping a roof over their head. So that’s why it’s so important,” she said.
Jennifer Heithoff, the chief program officer with Impact Community Action Partnership, which distributes the federal funds, said they had to stop accepting applications for the program earlier this month because they believe once they have processed all existing applications, current funding will run out.
Heithoff said the program receives on average 65 applications a day.
“So with the nine — now probably looking at a 10-day shutdown — those are…650 Polk County families that are likely facing eviction,” she said.
A U.S. Treasury Department official told IPR that the department is in the process of administering the second round of reallocations and will be announcing them soon.