PA City Council OKs pact with county on utility, housing assistance

PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles City Council has approved an interlocal agreement with Clallam County to provide utility, rent and mortgage assistance during COVID-19.

The seven-member council voted unanimously Tuesday to accept the $89,900 in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding.

The three county commissioners are expected to approve the same agreement next Tuesday.

The city of Port Angeles had previously established its own rent and utility assistance programs for COVID-19.

New funding

The city will use the new funding to provide grants to those who have incurred a financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This $89,000 is coming to the city, but there’s other funding going to other organizations in the county to provide relief to the residents in the county,” Port Angeles City Council member Mike French said in a virtual meeting Tuesday.

“I really appreciate the county seeing that need and supplying this money for that.”

Clallam County received $4.18 million in CARES Act funding and allocated the funding around public health, business support, rental and utility assistance, support for the homeless population, child care and food security.

County commissioners previously awarded $214,900 to Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCAP) for rental and mortgage assistance and $45,200 to the Clallam County Public Utility District for residential utility assistance.

“We’re really appreciative of the fact that the county stepped up to ensure that were seeing a countywide approach to use of CARES Act dollars,” City Manager Nathan West said in the Tuesday meeting.

City Finance Director Sarina Carrizosa negotiated the agreement to ensure that the city would not have to overhaul its existing rent and utility assistance program, West said.

Assistance offered

The city will use the $89,900 to provide utility assistance grants ranging from $24 to $250, depending on household size, income and type of residence, and rent and mortgage assistance of $300 to $500, Clallam County Chief Financial Officer Mark Lane told commissioners Monday.

”The scale of the relief is not proportional to the size of the emergency,” City Council member Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin said Tuesday.

Schromen-Wawrin warned his colleagues that the state eviction moratorium was scheduled to expire Oct. 15.

“We’ve yet to see the scale of relief that we need for the people of Port Angeles, for the people of Clallam County as a whole, and it’s going to be a tough winter,” Schromen-Wawrin said.

“It’s going to be really hard when that tsunami of evictions hits us.”

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected].

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