This week, I wanted to discuss an important resource available for those struggling with housing costs because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A few weeks ago, the Missouri Legislature passed House Bill 16, a supplemental budget bill that allows Missourians to take advantage of the existing federal State Assistance for Housing Relief (SAFHR) program. The spending bill makes more than $320 million of federal rental assistance funds available to Missourians impacted by COVID-19. Rental households with incomes at or below 80 percent of the area median may qualify for assistance with housing or utility costs. On Feb. 11, the governor signed HB 16 into law.
Under SAFHR, landlords and tenants are eligible for rent and utility arrears incurred since April 1, 2020. Landlords and tenants may receive rental assistance up to 3 months at a time, but may not receive more than 12 months of rent and utility assistance. Qualified groups may apply for assistance now. To apply for funds or to learn more about the program, please visit the Missouri Housing Development Commission’s website at mohousingresources.com.
COVID-19 Vaccination Events in St. Louis County
I also wanted to provide an update on a COVID-19 vaccination event happening in our community. This Saturday, March 6, St. Louis County and the Missouri National Guard will host a vaccination event at the North County Recreational Center at 2577 Redman Avenue from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Around 2,000 doses will be administered. The county executive has urged all eligible residents to register for this event through stlcorona.com. The St. Louis County Department of Public Health will contact eligible individuals who have pre-registered with the county to schedule appointments for the event. In order to receive the vaccine at this event, you must have a scheduled appointment — no walk-up service will be available.
Each week, the state will post vaccination events around the state at covidvaccine.mo.gov/events. Our community is a part of Region C, so any vaccination events in our community will be posted there.
If you are not currently eligible to receive one of the COVID-19 vaccines, you may pre-register at stlcorona.com to be notified by the county when you are eligible. If you do not have internet access, you can call the St. Louis County COVID-19 hotline at 314-615-2660. It is available Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
You can also pre-register through the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Navigator at covidvaccine.mo.gov/navigator. If you do not have access to the internet or have any questions about registering, please call the Missouri COVID-19 hotline at 877-435-8411. It is available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. The department is asking that only individuals who do not have access to the internet use the hotline.
Recently, the governor announced that on March 15 the state will begin vaccinating individuals who are eligible under Phase 1B Tier 3. This includes people who work in education, child care and other critical infrastructure industries. This is great news for our state’s teachers, and I am thrilled they are finally eligible to receive this life-saving medicine. According to the county, there are still hundreds of thousands of eligible individuals who are still waiting for an appointment. The county is committed to providing a safe learning environment for everyone and is working with school districts to ensure teachers are vaccinated quickly and efficiently once they are eligible.