Help with Rent2023-05-30T15:26:55-07:00

Behind on your rent? We may be able to help.

Opportunity Council administers the Federal Emergency Rental Assistance program for residents in Whatcom, Island, and San Juan Counties. All other Washington State counties are served by Department of Commerce partners.

Learn more about how to apply for assistance in your county here.

Rental Assistance Program ASL Video

News Bulletin

  • Whatcom: We are preparing to open a new eviction prevention rental assistance program serving low-income households who have received a pay or vacate notice and are at risk of becoming homeless. Services will include housing-focused case management and temporary rent subsidies to help households maintain housing and avoid homelessness. Please check back in July for updates on screening and scheduling.
  • Whatcom: Federal Rental Assistance is now closed in Whatcom County. All funds have been allocated.
  • Whatcom: Appointments booked for the wrong county will be canceled. Please do not book in San Juan County appointments.
  • San Juan: Appointments remain available, please check below.
  • Eviction Defense Screening Line through the Northwest Justice Project: 1-855-657-8387

How to get help paying rent

The first step to getting help with rent payments is to complete the screening process for the county you live in. This process will help determine if you are eligible for Federal Rental Assistance or if you may qualify for other housing assistance in your community. Learn more about who qualifies for rental assistance here.

Those behind on their rent and eligible for assistance should call the Island County Housing Resource Center at 360-678-8284. For more information, please visit the Island County Housing Support Center.

Click Here for San Juan County or call the Rental Assistance Screening Line at 360-746-3826. The Rental Assistance Screening Line is open Monday-Thursday 9am-12pm & 2pm-4pm.

Federal COVID Relief Rental Assistance is now closed.

For households that are HEN-eligible and behind on rent, please contact our Community Resource Center at (360)734-5121 option 3 and request a HEN eviction prevention screening. “HEN-eligible” means households who have been referred by DSHS to the Housing and Essential Needs program or who are receiving Aged, Blind,or Disabled (ABD) cash assistance through DSHS.

Other counties are served by Department of Commerce partners. Visit the Department of Commerce to find the agency serving your area.

Eligibility for rental assistance

Eligibility for rental assistance is based on the total household income and current payment status. To qualify for help, you must:

  • Have a total household income that is no more than 80% of the area median income for the county of residence.
  • Be behind on rent payments

Household Income Requirements

Income requirements are based on the county of residence and calculated based on Area Median Income – the median household income for that area as determined by the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. To qualify for the current Opportunity Council Rental Assistance Program, the applicant’s total household income cannot be more than 80% of the Area Median Income for a household of the same size.

Household Income Requirements – San Juan County2023-03-17T10:42:46-07:00
Median Income San Juan County Income Limit Category Maximum Income per Household Size
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
$89,600 50% County Median Income $30,550 $34,900 $39,250 $43,600 $47,100 $50,600 $54,100 $57,,600
80% County Median Income $48,850 $55,800 $62,800 $69,750 $73,750 $80,950 $86,500 $92,100
Household Income Requirements – Island County2023-01-30T21:47:09-08:00
Median Income Island County Income Limit Category Maximum Income per Household Size
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
$97,300 50% County Median Income $31,250 $35,700 $40,150 $44,600 $48,200 $51,750 $55,350 $58,900
80% County Median Income $49,950 $57,100 $64,250 $71,350 $77,100 $82,100 $88,500 $94,200
Household Income Requirements – Whatcom County2023-03-02T16:51:21-08:00
Median Family Income Whatcom County Income Limit Category Persons in Family
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
$97,300 50% AMI $31,750 $36,300 $40,850 $45,350 $49,000 $52,650 $56,250 $59,000
80% AMI $50,800 $58,050 $65,300 $72,500 $78,400 $84,200 $90,000 $95,800
What is “Area Median Income”?2023-01-30T12:47:36-08:00

Area median income is defined as the midpoint of a specific area’s income distribution, meaning 50% of households in the area have higher income and 50% of households have lower income. It is calculated on an annual basis by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and is often used in determining if households qualify for various housing programs.

Required Documents

When applying for rental assistance, you may need to provide documentation verifying your household income and current rental agreement. You will also need to show that you are behind on rent and/or meet other eligibility criteria.  Please be sure to gather the correct documents prior to your appointment.

Documentation of all sources of income received in the past 30 days (fixed income), 60 days (income that is not fixed) or for the past year (2020) for all household members: pay stubs, child support, DSHS, Social Security, unemployment, W-2, tax filings, etc. Income documentation must be from the source.

Copy of current past due utility bill, past due rent notice(with documentation showing which months are due), eviction notice, or documentation of unsafe or unhealthy living conditions

A copy of lease/rental agreement or letter from the landlord showing rent address and monthly amount. Additional documentation will be required if the landlord is not listed as the owner of the property on the County’s assessor website (established Property Management companies are excluded from this requirement).

Legal Help

If you have questions regarding your rights as a tenant or if you have received an eviction notice and have questions, please contact legal aid or go online for information on your options.

Click here for up to date information on eviction law during COVID-19.

Call the Clear Line 1-888-201-1014, Mon-Fri 9:15 AM to 12:15 PM, or complete the online application for services here. Seniors (age 60 and over) can also call CLEAR*Sr at 1-888-387-7111.

Call 360-671-6079 ex 15 for more information.

Washington State Attorney Generals website

Eviction Defense Screening Line through the Northwest Justice Project: 1-855-657-8387

Legal Resources and FAQs from Washington State Department of Commerce for those receiving Emergency Rental Assistance (ERAP, TRAP) can be found here.

Se pueden encontrar recursos legales y preguntas frecuentes del Departamento de Comercio del Estado de Washington para aquellos que reciben Asistencia de emergencia para el alquiler (ERAP, TRAP) aquí.

Dispute Resolution

If you have received an eviction notice for non-payment of rent, you should receive a flyer for the Eviction Resolution Pilot Program (ERPP). It is important to contact your local Dispute Resolution Center immediately to participate in the program or you risk being evicted without having a chance to participate in mediation.  If you receive an eviction notice for no-payment of rent and DO NOT receive the Eviction Resolution Pilot Program (ERPP) flyer, you should contact the Eviction Defense Screening Line at 1-855-657-8387 to discuss your options. Dispute Resolution Centers may also offer help to improve communication, increase understanding, negotiating payment or repayment plans, discuss deposits and move out timelines, address lease agreements and other related issues, and empower parties to determine their own solutions. Please click on your county below for the Dispute Resolution Center serving your county.

Rental Assistance Policy Forms

Whatcom, Island and San Juan county’s rent assistance program is currently operational per Proclamation 21-09.

This project was supported by a grant awarded by US Department of the Treasury. Points of view in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the US Department of the Treasury. Grant funds are administered by the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund thru the Washington State Department of Commerce.

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