Brother Francis Shelter recently provided 91 Kodiak families with housing relief after the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly voted to give the shelter another slice of its Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act money.

The assembly had previously given the shelter $69,300 to cover lost revenues and upgraded equipment to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.  

This time, the assembly voted to give the shelter $122,500 after Executive Director Monte Hawver pleaded with the assembly to give the shelter money to keep families from falling into homelessness. 

Of the total, $82,500 went to fund homelessness prevention — basically help paying rent or mortgages — and $40,000 for Safeway gift cards. 

As of the end of last week, all the homelessness prevention money had been spent. That’s typically six months’ work for the shelter. 

“It’s been a bizarre year,” Hawver said. 

Brother Francis has given out aid to 173 families in 2020. Last year, by the end of December, Hawver said the shelter had helped 98. 

Of those 173 families, 91 got aid in the past few weeks with the CARES money.

There’s been a Center for Disease Control mandated eviction moratorium in place since September, which prevents landlords from evicting tenants under certain conditions, such as if they lost income due to COVID-19 and evicting them could result in homelessness. 

This has kept some of the potential evictions at bay so far, Hawver said.

However, the CDC order was set to expire on Dec. 31. President Donald Trump signed a $900 billion COVID-19 stimulus package into law on Sunday night, part of which extends the moratorium until Jan. 31, 2021. 

But until Sunday, no one knew if the moratorium would be extended or not, and the bills were coming due. 

“These folks are getting behind on their rent and their mortgages, and landlords let them slide for a few months,” Hawver said. 

More and more, those landlords and mortgage holders are seeing their costs pile up, and that trickles down to tenants and homeowners. 

“We’ve had very few actual evictions up until the last four or five weeks, and now they’ve started giving notices,” Hawver said. 

“But now there’s 90 families or so who aren’t getting bumped out into a car or tent or something.” 

The amounts the shelter has given out has increased too. It’s gotten extra funding from local and federal sources, but tenants are in deeper holes since landlords have been giving some of them breaks in previous months. People are getting three or four months behind on rent instead of a month or two.

Hawver also said a number of the people who applied for relief had actually contracted COVID-19 themselves. 

“When you live in an 800-square-foot house, if one person gets it, everybody gets it,” he said.

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