City of Seattle offers 9,392 cash assistance grants to income-eligible families through the Seattle Relief Fund

Last week, the city of Seattle, in partnership with several nonprofits, announced that it had provided 5,257 people and 4,135 households with direct cash assistance through its Seattle Relief Fund. This fund was established to support vulnerable income-eligible Seattle residents who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With the Omicron variant now here in King County, we know COVID-19 is far from over with us, which is why we continue to launch programs to help residents, households and small businesses that continue to feel the impacts of this pandemic, ”said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. “Nearly 50 community organizations have focused on fair outreach both in person and over the phone to help thousands of people apply for this crucial funding, and now, more than ever, this cash help will help pay for groceries. , bills and accommodation. “

Of the claimants, 5,585 adults received $ 1,000, 827 two-adult households received a payment of $ 2,000, and 2,980 households with dependent children or adults received a payment of $ 3,000. The Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) and the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA) both managed the Seattle Relief Fund, with the planning process starting in July of this year and the official app launching in October. During the three weeks of application opening, the program received 63,672 applications.

Seattle-based nonprofit tech organization Scholar Fund (SF) handled the application process. According to the analysis of applications by SF, the majority of households that received funding (61.1%) suffered a death, hospitalization or a long-term impact or health crisis related to the COVID-19 pandemic. A large majority of scholarship recipients (92.4%) have experienced some form of recent housing instability, including inability to pay rent / mortgage and / or having to move. Additionally, 82.7% of all applicants reported job or income loss as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

The design and implementation of the SRF by the two city departments were based on collaborative innovation with the community. SRF incorporated feedback and ideas from dozens of community organizations throughout all phases of the project, including determining eligibility, formulating the request, and launching the awareness and engagement campaign. .

“We were honored to help with the disbursement of money through the Seattle Relief Fund. Throughout the process, we have witnessed how many people believe financial aid could have a positive impact, ”said Vivian Hua, executive director of the Northwest Film Forum, a community organization partner of the Seattle Relief Fund. “The SRF community outreach efforts were innovative, fluid, and offered a replicable model for centering communities that are often hard to reach. “

“The overwhelming response we have received from our Seattle Relief Fund outreach activities indicates the impact COVID-19 continues to have on those who live in the Seattle area,” said Violet Lavatai, APICAT representative, another SRF community partner. “APICAT for Health appreciates the opportunity to partner with the City of Seattle, Mayor Durkan, HSD, OIRA, Scholar Fund and other community organizations involved in this effort to support individuals and families during this holiday season. Our collective effort reminds us of what can be accomplished when we work together. “

“I continued to be so inspired by engagement and innovation across the city and our communities. Together, we stepped up the launch of this important program, reaching applicants in all but two of Seattle’s zip codes. It’s so nice to know that families will have a better vacation, ”said Cuc Vu, Director of OIRA. “Seattle is once again demonstrating its leadership as a welcoming city that continues to focus on the needs of our most vulnerable communities. A big thank you also to the Scholar Fund who quickly processed and reviewed the more than 63,000 applications submitted. This is the best of government and community collaboration! “

Prior to the Seattle Relief Fund, the city disbursed $ 5,807,000 in direct cash assistance specifically to low-income immigrants ineligible for federal stimulus payments. These immigrants received financial assistance from the Seattle COVID-19 Disaster Relief Fund for Immigrants (SDRF) last year and were able to apply through a separate recertification process that began in August 2021. OIRA has once again partnered with Scholar Fund, which sent SMS and email notifications and even made phone calls to last year’s winners. Of the 3,705 originals who submitted applications to the SDRF in 2020, 89% were eligible for ongoing assistance. Individuals and households who received payments as part of the 2021 SDRF recertification process were not eligible to apply to the Seattle Relief Fund.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city of Seattle has worked quickly to launch COVID-19 testing sites, immunization clinics, and relief programs, including rental assistance, extension of shelters for homeless people, grocery vouchers for working families, and financial assistance for small businesses.

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