WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine today announced his office is partnering with local nonprofit organizations to sponsor three additional in-person STAY DC clinics to help residents navigate the application process so they can get support to pay their rent and utility bills, as many have struggled financially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the end of July, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), announced five initial clinics. Following the success of those clinics, OAG announced additional clinics in September. Attorneys and staff are continuing to volunteer to work at the clinics to help residents apply for financial assistance as many have expressed difficulties filling out the application. Since the end of July, OAG attorneys and staff have helped 130 tenants fill out applications for STAY DC funds.
“In just a month, while we were holding clinics, the District went from having about 80% of STAY DC funds still available to help residents cover rent and utility bills, to about 30% showing how many residents accessed that support in such a short time period,” said AG Racine. “That means the District won’t have to return any federal money and may get more resources to help struggling residents. Because these clinics have been so successful, we’re now adding more clinics due to demand and interest from community partners. I’m proud our office is playing a key role in helping struggling residents get enrolled in the program and it’s imperative that these applications are quickly processed.”
As of late July, partially as a result of application difficulties, STAY DC still had more than 80% of its assistance funds which could be distributed to eligible residents. OAG then announced it would partner with local nonprofit organizations to sponsor STAY DC clinics to help residents sign up for support from the program during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following many of OAG’s clinics, it was announced at the end of August that the District has now given out nearly 70% of the federal funds offered to help tenants cover rent and utility costs during the pandemic. That means the District will not have to return any federal money and may get more resources to help struggling residents.
STAY DC is a financial assistance program for District renters and housing providers who are looking for support to cover housing and utility expenses and offset the loss of income. The program is meant to help families settle debts, pay landlords what they are owed and, ultimately, avoid a crisis when the District’s moratorium on eviction proceedings expires later this year. But for tenants who are elderly, face technological barriers, or are disabled, illiterate, or whose primary language is not English, the application is difficult to navigate without help. On top of this, many organizations need more support to help answer residents’ questions with the application. OAG attorneys and staff stepped in to help fill that gap.
Four STAY DC clinics have already taken place. The remaining clinics will take place on:
- Saturday, September 11, 10:00am – 2:00pm
Ward 5: Church of the Redeemer, 1423 Girard Street NE, Washington, DC 20017
- Saturday, September 18, 10:00am – 2:00pm
Ward 7: East Washington Heights Baptist Church, 2220 Branch Ave SE, Washington, DC 20020
- Monday, September 20, 5:00pm – 8:00pm
Ward 1: Columbia Heights Education Center, 3101 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20010
- Wednesday, September 22, 5:00 – 8:00pm
- Ward 8: THEARC, 1901 Mississippi Ave SE, Washington, DC 20020
Residents interested in attending a clinic should take the following steps:
- Determine eligibility for STAY DC support.
- Register at this link to join one of the upcoming clinics so residents will be paired with a volunteer who can assist. Residents can also walk up to a clinic without an appointment, but pre-registering will guarantee that someone will be available to provide assistance.
- Before going to an appointment, review the list of required documents and bring those documents to the appointment.
- Residents with questions can email email@example.com.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government provided $2.5 billion nationally in federal rental and utility assistance funds to tenants in need, and tasked states and municipalities with distributing their portion of the funds.
The District created STAY DC – which is jointly run by the DC Department of Human Services and the DC Department of Housing and Community Development – to distribute the District’s portion of the federal assistance funds, which totals $200 million, to eligible residents. Under the STAY DC online portal, tenants can apply to cover outstanding rent and utility bills dating back to April 1, 2020, and three months of future rent.
The District was responsible for dispersing at least $130 million to eligible residents before September 30, 2021, or it would have forfeited additional federal funds that the District would have been eligible for to help even more families avoid eviction. It accomplished this goal in part due to the OAG clinics and OAG’s attorneys and staff who stepped in to help.