Emergency Rental Assistance Program and affordable housing in Wyoming.

Emergency Rental Assistance Program and affordable housing in Wyoming . Korin Schmidt,...
Emergency Rental Assistance Program and affordable housing in Wyoming . Korin Schmidt, Department of Family Services(Valeria Fugate)
Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 6:17 PM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - Governor Mark Gordon responded to last week’s criticism of Wyoming’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program when Congressman James Clyburn stated the state was underspending the federal funds distributed through the ARPA.

Governor Mark Gordon rebuked the claims saying Wyoming needs and systems do not fit the mold of larger states. The restrictive requirements of the program limit who and how they can help.

“I think the Governor makes it pretty clear what we do need in terms of housing and support, but we welcome a conversation with the Federal Government. We welcome a conversation with Congress on how Covid(-19) has impacted Wyoming and impacted housing and truly what the need is,” said Korin Schmidt, Department of Family Services.

Wyoming experts point out the Federal program was not designed for more rural, less populous states.

Restrictions of eligibility for a rental assistance program fall flat when 70 percent of the Wyoming population are homeowners.

And staying to a strict median income of the subsequent 30 percent excludes the people who need the help most.

Wyoming experts suggest the needs of Wyoming might be better served by separate programs with different parameters to meet the need of the states they are serving.

“With the Federal Government just being able to make it a stream lined process, making sure we can have some flexibility and some say in what we’re seeing our issues truly are, instead of what they are assuming they are, because they might be different here than they are in Detroit,” said Brenda Birkle, Executive Director, My Front Door.

Housing shortages that are exempt from using the infrastructure funds also restrict rental and housing availability. At the same time, other under-served groups like the homeless are excluded from the program and infrastructure funds they could use to integrate back into stable housing.

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