Mount Rainier launches COVID rent, food assistance programs


Michael Theis/Route 1 Reporter

Mount Rainier's City Hall

The city of Mount Rainier has launched its own emergency assistance fund to help residents affected by the coronavirus pandemic and its economic disruptions to buy groceries and pay rent and utility bills, at least while supplies last.

The programs were unveiled at Mount Rainier’s Aug. 19, 2020, City Council meeting by City Manager Latasha Gatling. Under the program, approved residents can receive a one-time payment of up to $1,000 to help pay off overdue rent or utility payments, paid directly to the landlord or utility company. Applicants must prove they reside in the city of Mount Rainier and must show evidence of need, and must demonstrate that the need for assistance was related to the coronavirus pandemic.  Further, applicants must provide copies of bills or late-notices for rent or mortgage delinquencies. Applications are due by Sept. 11, 2020

Additionally, Mount Rainier will distribute a limited number of grocery gift cards to households on a first come, first serve basis under a resident food assistance program. Single individuals can get $80 gift cards, while families are eligible for $100 gift cards. Similar to the rental assistance program, food assistance applicants. One one gift-card per household per month can be obtained. Residents can apply for consecutive months of food assistance, but preference in subsequent months will be given to households that have not yet taken advantage of the program. Applications for the first month are due by Aug. 28, 2020.

The programs will be eventually funded by the federal coronavirus economic stimulus bill, the CARES Act, which allows municipalities to be re-imbursed by the federal government for expenses incurred to address the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Mount Rainier has budgeted the rental assistance program at $20,000, and the grocery gift card program at $5,000. 

Mount Rainier is the latest Route 1 municipality to offer up a hyperlocal assistance funding for residents. Other cities with similar programs include College Park, Riverdale Park and Hyattsville.

Editor’s note:Route 1 Reporter is – normally – a subscriber-supported local news website. Due to the state of emergency, articles about the coronavirus pandemic will be available for free. If you like the reporting, please support Route 1 Reporter on Patreon.

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