Debt Forgiveness for Households Affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic
On Wednesday, October 26, 2022, the Tacoma Housing Authority (THA) Board of Commissioners approved a resolution to pay off tenant debts accrued during the COVID-19 pandemic. This one-time assistance will use THA unrestricted reserves to eliminate late rent and other charges accumulated by active THA clients who live or lived at a THA portfolio property during this time.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, THA stopped issuing late rent notices. State and federal eviction moratoriums allowed people to keep their housing at a time when many people faced unemployment. Between March 2020 and October 2022, about 600 THA households accumulated debt from late rent and other fees.
Even though the county provided late rent assistance, the process was imperfect and included a long wait period. Not everyone who needed help received it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why did we make this decision?
At the end of 2021, THA analyzed the impact of the accumulated debt. We wanted to understand how many and which households would be at risk of eviction. We also looked at how debt collection and eviction proceedings would impact staff time and capacity.
The analysis identified that the negative effects of debt would disproportionately harm BIPOC households. Additionally, half of impacted households have children in the home. The analysis also concluded that it would cost THA more money in staff time to pursue debt collection and eviction proceedings. As a result, staff recommended that THA forgive the outstanding debt.
The full analysis can be found attached to the Board’s authorizing resolution.
Who is eligible for assistance?
Late rent and other charges are eligible for this policy if they were accumulated between March 1, 2020, and October 1, 2022. Charges accrued before March 1, 2020, or after October 1, 2022, are not eligible for this assistance and must be repaid.
A household is eligible if:
- They are an active THA client whose debt originated at a THA portfolio property, including households who transferred to another unit/property or moved out with a voucher.
- The household does not have a signed payment form with Living Access Support Alliance (LASA), the administering agency for the Pierce County T-RAP funds.
- Households with a signed form that are waiting on receipt of Pierce County T-RAP assistance may receive THA’s assistance if funds are not disbursed by April 1, 2023.
A household does not need to apply for this assistance.
Can I get my rent money back?
No. We will not be refunding any rent payments paid.
What if I fall behind again?
You are responsible for paying your portion of the rent. If you experienced a loss of income, increase in childcare costs or child support payments, report it to THA within 10 days by completing the Change of Circumstance form, or speak with your Property Manager.
- After October 1, THA will resume issuing notices.
- Any future late rents and other fees will be subject to late rent notices and could lead to eviction.
- THA will pursue late rents and other fees accrued before March 1, 2020 (these debts are not covered by debt forgiveness).
- If you are having trouble paying rent, please call 2-1-1 or go to https://wa211.org.
Does clearing this debt mean that THA serves fewer families?
No. This assistance was not paid with federal funds.