Thousands applying for rent and utility assistance

Pierce County and the City of Tacoma are partners in a federal and state-funded eviction-prevention and utility assistance program that could help thousands of people who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Renters with overdue rent or utility bills can apply online for financial assistance. Eligible utilities include electric, water, sewer, gas, garbage pickup, fuel oil and internet. Residents without internet access can call 2-1-1 to apply over the phone.

Applicants may be eligible for up to 12-months of rental assistance, based on need.

The $58 million county-city program, which is separate from measures proposed in the Legislature for similar assistance, is funded with $20 million from the U.S. Department of Treasury and $38 million from the state Department of Commerce.

Nearly 5,000 applications were received in the first 24 hours of the program, according to John Barbee, community services manager for Pierce County Human Services. “We expect thousands more in the upcoming weeks,” he said March 12.

Eligibility is based on income levels, impact of COVID-19, and residence in the county or Tacoma. Additional information is available at

Meanwhile, state legislation that would protect renters statewide from evictions related to the pandemic have been working their way through the Legislature. And in King County, local measures to help renters there are awaiting action by the County Council.