LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The federal money from the CARES Act is nearly gone, and Nevada lawmakers are looking to provide funding for some people in Clark County who face eviction.

A $44 million appropriation from the state — $22 million each of the next two years — would soften the blow for some who are in the worst situations with rent payments. The money is provided under Assembly Bill 396 (AB396), which still needs approval from the Democrat-controlled Legislature and Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo.

Las Vegas had the most evictions filed of any major city in the U.S. in the first week of 2023, according to Assemblywoman Shea Backus (D-Las Vegas), who presented AB396 on Monday in Carson City.

Democratic Assemblywoman Shea Backus presents AB396 on Monday in Carson City.

Over the course of the pandemic, more than 70,000 households in Nevada received assistance for rent or utilities as Nevada’s tourism-based economy shut down and many residents lost their jobs. Federal funding for CHAP — CARES Housing Assistance Program — kept a lot of people from being evicted because they couldn’t pay their rent.

The proposed $22 million each year would be distributed through Clark County “diversion court” programs that determine eligibility under two areas:

“Fixed income” CHAP eligibility

  • At least 1 person in the household on fixed income
  • Increase in rent within 12 months
  • Notice of eviction notice for nonpayment of rent

Eligibility also depends on an income cap at 50% of median income. That will be somewhere around $30,000 per year. Any benefits must go directly to the landlord.

Backus said the benefit has been about $6,600 per eligible household, but that varies. The program could help more than 1,000 households.

“Eviction” CHAP

  • Eviction notice for non-payment of rent
  • An answer must be filed with the court
  • Financial change in circumstances within 60 days of application
  • Must prove previous 12 months rent paid

The income cap is higher for this benefit, set at 60% of average median income (around $36,000) and the benefits are smaller. All payments must go directly to the landlord or utility company.

Backus said about 7,500 households could get an average benefit of $2,000.

Republican Assemblyman Gregory Hafen, who represents parts of rural Clark County and a part of Nye County that includes Pahrump, asked why the state was only considering help for the Las Vegas area.

Republican Assemblyman Gregory Hafen.

“I would say that even though Clark County is the epicenter of this, I think people in other jurisdictions certainly could benefit,” answered Jonathan Norman of the Nevada Coalition of Legal Service Providers. “The point is well taken, that it’s not just Clark County where people are hurting in our state.”

If approved, AB396 would make funds available on July 1, 2023.

Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager (D-Las Vegas) asked what people are doing now as the benefits run out.

Joanna Jacob, government affairs manager for Clark County, said the county assigns a caseworker to evaluate the situation.

“We look to see if they can qualify for other county programs and we’re going to try and obviously send them on to whatever is available to them,” Jacob said.

“Clark County has a lot of housing programs that are separate and apart from the two that we are discussing today. We are helping people to get them rehoused, we can do emergency housing, we can try and defer what we can,” she said. “And so they’re getting connected. They’re in our queue and then with a caseworker and we look to see how we can help them if they don’t qualify.

How big is that queue? Jacob said there are currently 3,400 applications assigned to caseworkers — and another 2,300 applications that have yet to be assigned.