The aim of the week is to recognize the positive work of economic developers along with community and business leaders do to enhance local economic impact. Photo:

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon has issued an executive order taking steps towards administering the federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program through the Wyoming Department of Family Services.

The order allows the State to prepare its distribution plan for this program while providing the opportunity to work with the Legislature on details before launching the program.

“The need for this program cannot be understated, but it requires significant work to run it effectively and that’s what begins now,” Governor Mark Gordon said. “Wyoming’s network of nonprofit and community service organizations continue to report statistics demonstrating Wyomingites’ need for relief during this global pandemic and historic recession. I look forward to working with legislators to launch this program.”

The federal government has provided the State with $200 million in funding to cover rent and utility costs for Wyomingites struggling financially due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wyoming 2-1-1 is reporting a 280% increase in calls for rental assistance in 2020. Similarly, a county relief agency reported providing financial assistance to 349 area families unable to cover rent in the final quarter of 2020, even though 77% of such households were at least partially employed. At the same time, many Wyoming landlords are left with unpaid back rent, and in some cases, utility bills left unpaid by struggling tenants. This program covers that back rent for landlords and reimburses utility companies the unpaid bills, which can benefit all ratepayers.

The Department of Family Services intends to work alongside a coalition of state entities and community stakeholders to ensure that every eligible Wyomingite knows about and has access to the program. Specifically, the Department of Workforce Services will play an integral role in both the current planning stage and the program’s implementation.

The Governor looks forward to working with the Wyoming Legislature when they reconvene in March to take the final steps to implement this program. Applications for relief are not available at this time. Once an application process is in place, the Department of Family Services, the Department of Workforce Services, and stakeholders will publicize that process. In the meantime, comments about how the program should operate may be emailed to RentalAssistance@wyo.gov.

The Executive Order is attached and can be found on the Governor’s website.

Buckrail @ Caroline

Caroline Chapman is a Community News Reporter. She's a lover of alliteration, easy-to-follow recipes and board games when everyone knows the rules. Her favorite aspect about living in the Tetons is the collective admiration that Wyomingites share for the land and the life that it sustains.