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Financial assistance available for low-income Iowans facing eviction or regaining housing

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MASON CITY, Iowa – Trying to find residence after being evicted from your home due to financial issues is a scary and daunting task. With the federal eviction moratorium on renters set to expire at the end of the month, the state of Iowa is making sure that no one goes homeless.

Recently, Governor Kim Reynolds announced $9 million in CARES Act funding will be set allocated to the Emergency Solutions Grant program to assist low-income Iowans who are at risk of eviction and those who have lost housing to regain housing stability. It covers not just rent and utility payments, but also application fees, moving costs and credit repair. All financial assistance is paid directly to landlords and service providers.

The Mason City Housing Authority is one of a few agencies in North Iowa aimed to help meet the housing needs of low-income families, within Mason City city limits. Executive director Cathy Burtness says her office has received some applicants to the program and other forms of assistance, though there is a bit of a backlog the agency is working through.

“We’re trying to process new people on the program as quickly as we can. We have about 60 letters out to people that are next on the waiting list to determine their eligibility and get them in here for their paper work and get them started just as soon as we can.

“We have about 500 households that we help at any one time in the program. The households pay between 30-40% of their income towards rent and utilities. Our funding, which is federal funding from HUD [U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development], covers the difference.”

To be eligible for eviction prevention, you must have an income of 50% of the area’s median income, must have been economically impacted by COVID-19, and be at imminent risk of eviction. For those needing to regain housing quickly, Iowans must be experiencing homelessness. 

For more information on the program, including how to apply through the coordinated entry help line in your area, visit iowahousingrecovery.com. To be screened for the grant program in Cerro Gordo County, call 641-380-0047. For housing assistance within Mason City city limits, call 641-421-2711.

The funding will also provide support for homeless shelter operations. The Northern Lights Alliance for the Homeless received $45,000 during the second allocation of the emergency grant awards, for shelter and outreach.



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Credit Card Deal: American Express Blue Cash Preferred®

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If the pandemic has had a lasting effect on your spending habits, then it’s likely that you eat in more often, and spend more time cooking at home and watching television. If there’s one credit card that’s suited to this lifestyle, it’s the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, which is now offering new applicants the opportunity to earn up to $350 in cash back. Terms Apply.

How this card works

New applicants of the Blue Cash Preferred® card can earn $150 in cash back after spending $3,000 on purchases within six months of account opening. You’ll also earn 20% back on all your Amazon.com purchases within six months of account opening. This cash back is limited to your first $1,000 in purchases, which means that you can earn up to $200 cash back (for a combined total of $350 back). The cash back will come in the form of a statement credit that reduces your balance, so you won’t need to redeem any rewards or be concerned with points that can expire.

This card also offers some of the highest rates of cash back that you can earn from a credit card, including a whopping 6% back (on up to $6,000 spent per year) at U.S. supermarkets (worth up to $360 per year). You also earn unlimited 6% cash back for purchases from dozens of select U.S. streaming subscriptions including Netflix, HBO Max, Amazon Music Unlimited and Disney+. Furthermore, you’ll earn 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit purchases including taxis, rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses (and more), plus earn 1% back on all other purchases.

What does it cost?

This card has a $95 annual fee, but it’s waived the first year. The card also offers new applicants 12 months of 0% intro APR on new purchases, then a variable rate 13.99% – 23.99% applies.

Bottom line

If you’re going to sit at home, cook and watch TV, you might as well earn as much cash back as possible. By taking a closer look at the American Express Blue Cash Preferred, you might find that you’re eligible for more cash back than you ever thought possible.

See Rates & Fees for Blue Cash Preferred by American Express.

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