Housing finance agency Tennessee Housing Development Authority has announced it’s been charged with the distribution of some $485 million in COVID-19 federal funds for rent relief and could start doing so within at least eight weeks.

Gov. Bill Lee tasked THDA with distributing the money, according to a press release, and the organization is developing a web portal to help residents apply.

It will hire staff and set up an application assistance call center to help renters apply for assistance.

Any money they qualify for will go directly to landlords.

The release stated THDA also expects by late January to receive more guidance on how to distribute the funds.

“While this is a big challenge, THDA is working to open the COVID-19 rent relief program as soon as is practical,” officials said in the statement. They also noted that, based on the experience of other states and the vendors they expect to work with, it may take at least eight weeks for THDA to begin fund distribution.

Maryville Housing Authority may be at least somewhat involved in this process locally, officials said, but they’re still waiting on more information, too.

“Once the US Treasury Department releases further guidance on the COVID-19 rent relief ... we will have a better understanding on how this may affect our residents,” MHA Leasing Supervisor Julie Sharpe said in an email to The Daily Times on Thursday.

THDA noted some Tennessee metro communities chose to run their own relief-distribution programs; they include, Knox County, Nashville, Memphis and Shelby County.

Residents in these areas won’t be able to apply through THDA.

Blount Countians can sign up at thda.org/help-for-renters-section-8/covid-19-rent-relief to be among the first to hear more information about the program.

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Follow @arjonesreports on Facebook and Twitter for more from city government reporter Andrew Jones.

Andrew joined The Daily Times in 2019 and covers city government and breaking news.

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