FILE - rental property

(The Center Square) – On Thursday, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said the state has more than $150 million in federal COVID-19 aid available for residents facing eviction or in need of paying past due utility bills. And he's urging eligible resident to apply for that funding.

The Healthy at Home Eviction Relief Fund money can be used to cover up to 15 months of rent, water and electricity payments, including up to 12 months of back payments and three months of future bills.

The state received $297 million for rental aid, with $22.8 million going to Louisville and $9.6 million allocated to Lexington. The remainder of that funding was made available for the state’s remaining 118 counties. At least 60% of that money has been set aside for applicants making less than 50% of their community’s median income or have been unemployed for at least 90 days.

Kentucky has paid more than $65 million in rent and utility relief since the start of the pandemic, with more than $51 million of that happening since March. However, applications have slowed down somewhat. In July, the state issued $11.1 million in payments, and $9.3 million were made in August.

In a statement, Beshear said he wanted to make sure eligible Kentuckians were aware there’s funding still available if they are in need.

“We know this is a difficult time, and we will continue to work tirelessly with our partners to provide rent and utility relief to Kentucky families,” he said.

Since March, the state has approved funding for more than 9,700 households, with those applicants receiving an average of more than $5,200 in assistance. More than 90 percent of the funding has gone directly to landlords and utility providers.

The 9,727 approved applications represent more than 56 percent of the more than 17,250 completed requests the state has received. Beshear said  the Kentucky Housing Corporation (KHC) has hired more workers and brought in vendors to process applications. Those workers, though, are also having to weed out fraudulent applications as well.

Besides the renters’ relief fund, the state and KHC are working with the Administrative Office of the Courts to reduce the number of evictions. Landlords filing to evict their tenants receive information about the fund, and the KHC is also sending out information to both parties with court cases looming.

“Throughout this pandemic, we have turned over every stone to find ways to help Kentuckians during a difficult time,” the governor said. “My top priorities in this pandemic are keeping our people healthy and keeping them in their homes.”

The state has also received $85.4 million for homeowners in need of assistance during the pandemic. That program, though, has yet to launch.

According to the state, the eviction relief funds will be available through Sept. 30, 2022 or until the money has been spent.