The 4,000th family, supported by North Dakota’s Rent Help program since its inception through the Department of Human Services, has now been helped.

The department knew a lot of people would struggle due to the pandemic, according to Executive Policy Director for Human Services, Jessica Thommasson.

Plus, many housing providers also reported people having trouble paying their rent consistently.

In 2020, Human Services launched a program called Emergency Rent Bridge.

By the end of 2020, U.S. Congress passed a number of funding streams to help states provide housing stability services.

The program is income-based and requires proof of rental agreement and COVID-related hardship, Thommasson says.

“A little broader income eligibility than some other forms of housing assistance, it’s one of the things we find that people don’t think they would qualify, but they might,” she added.

The Rent Bridge program recently served its 4,000th household and almost 1,700 housing and utility providers across the state have received payments on behalf of renters who had fallen behind or were struggling to pay their rent or utilities.

The program can provide up to 12 months of rent and utility assistance to households and as the weather gets colder, Thommasson says it is really important to work on homelessness prevention.

“Especially in the winter we really see a lot of urgency around trying to find people stable, safe places to live,” she said.

Just last month alone, the state distributed a monthly record of $2.36 million in rent and utility relief.