Public housing residents get economic relief

Las Brisas is one of a number of south county housing developments where residents will get financial relief from the federal government amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

SOMERTON -- Tenants of public housing in south Yuma County will get financial relief from the U.S. Department of Housing to help them weather economic difficulties resulting from the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The relief measures include a 120-day moratorium on evictions of tenants who are behind in their rent payments, reduced rents and elimination of charges for late rental payments.

Among the housing agencies that will be enacting the new policies are Somerton-based Housing America Corp. and the Comite de Bien Estar, in San Luis, Ariz.,both operate federally subsidized housing that will be covered in the new policy

Housing America operates 212 apartments subsidized by HUD or the U.S. Department of Agriculture in complexes in Somerton, Yuma and Kingman.

Thomas Ryan, Housing America’s executive director says, the moratorium and other relief measures provided by HUD come at a timely moment for residents, many of whose incomes already drop in the summer months.

He said the benefits will be applied to rents as soon as May but will be reserved for those families that can demonstrate the financial hardship directly related to the pandemic.

In Somerton and San Luis, the Comite de Bien Estar administers 324 housing units subsidized by HUD and the Department of Agriculture.

Aside from operating the apartments, the two non-profit organizations offer mutual self-help housing programs that help low- or moderate-income families apply for low-interest financing through the Department of Agriculture to build homes of their own.

The Department of Agriculture earlier this month was suspending evictions and foreclosures and deferrals of mortgage payments for families affected financially by the pandemic.

Both Ryan and Tony Reyes, executive director of the Comite de Bien Estar, stresses that the assistance is available only this year and only to those tenants who can demonstrate their finances have been hurt by the pandemic.

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