A new rent assistance program begins on Vashon

Lottery program has goal of serving 20 families in 2022.

A new subsidized rent lottery for islanders, a program by Vashon’s Interfaith Council to Prevent Homelessness (ICPH) has now received 54 applications and held its first lottery.

All entries in the lottery, of which 17% came from seniors, have now been given a number. The 18 lowest numbers in the lottery will begin to receive $500 per month for the next year, or $6,000 total, to assist in making rental payments in 2022. Payments, made directly to the homeowners of the rental properties, are set to start in January,

The program, managed by islander Hilary Emmer, hopes to add more families to the program in the next couple of weeks. To meet this goal of serving 20 families total in 2022, $12,000 will need to be raised in the next two weeks, ensuring that there will be enough time to process the additional paperwork needed from the next two families in line for assistance from the program.

The need is great for this kind of assistance on Vashon, according to Emmer.

“Affordable housing on this island is getting harder and harder to find,” she said. “Rents are increasing, and wages do not seem to be keeping up at the same rate. Lessening housing insecurity for our seniors and workers is the goal of this program.”

Emmer has long been an activist in supporting efforts for affordable housing on Vashon. In the COVID era, she worked with IFCH to create and manage a “virus rent program” in 2020-2021. Through December, this fund will have granted approximately $378,500 in rental assistance to 107 island households.

Emmer, a talented and persistent fundraiser, said she raised $433,500 to fund the virus rent program — leaving $55,000 from that fund as seed money for the new lottery program.

To donate to the new program, mail a check, with “new rent program” in the memo line, to IFCH, P.O. Box 330, Vashon, 98070.

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