Case Study: Spokane Rental Assistance Program

Case Study: Spokane Rental Assistance Program

FORWARD Impact in Spokane, WA


  • Awarded over $22M in rent relief 
  • More than 1,500 tenants and landlords supported
  • Distributed 100% of ERA1 funding


I turned to FORWARD for help with funding to move to a less expensive apartment. There were some complications with the reluctance of the new landlord and his time frame, but Ms. Willett resolved them. Now, I have a nice, safe place to try to heal for at least a year. This whole ordeal has been extremely stressful and life-changing. I still have many things to figure out, but where I am going to live is not one of them.

— Paul Nadrette, Tenant, City of Spokane Rental Assistance Program


Situated in eastern Washington, along the Spokane River and the Selkirk Mountains, the city of Spokane is the second largest metropolitan area in the state of Washington. With a poverty rate that is 66.7% higher than the Washington average, many households in Spokane were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2021, the City of Spokane contracted FORWARD to administer $22.4 million in rent and utility relief to aid in the recovery of low-income households facing economic hardships and housing instability.


What were the challenges? FORWARD Solutions
Many tenants and landlords are unaware of or needed more support to apply to rental assistance programs.  FORWARD partnered with local organizations, including World Relief Spokane, Latinos in Spokane, Northwest Meditation Center, Tenants Union of Washington State, and Fulcrum Dispute Resolution Clinic. These organizations have deep, trusted relationships with communities in Spokane and provided multilingual outreach and application support.

In addition, FORWARD’s multilingual in-house support team provided application assistance via phone, text, and email to help applicants complete the application process and provided necessary documentation. 

The City of Spokane needed additional support to process and review applications and distribute funding to tenants and landlords.   FORWARD provided in-house Application and Award Processing. FORWARD Intake Specialists helped tenants and landlords complete their applications and review and process applications. The FORWARD Payments team performed an additional review of each application before distributing payment to approved applicants. 
The City of Spokane needed to meet its reporting requirements.  FORWARD provided weekly reports to the City of Spokane and a final report at the end of the program. 


The City of Spokane partnered with FORWARD to distribute $22.4 million in emergency rental assistance. To date, these programs have provided funds to more than 1,500 tenants and landlords across the City. FORWARD streamlined all aspects of the program, including marketing and outreach, application design, review and processing, fraud prevention, payment distribution, and reporting. 

In addition, FORWARD leveraged the Urban Institute’s Rental Assistance Priority Index to analyze emergency rental assistance funds distribution for the City of Spokane. Through this research, we were able to track applicant funding disbursed through the City’s rental assistance programs on census tracts for Spokane and target outreach to neighborhoods and areas at high risk of housing instability and homelessness.



As a result, FORWARD exceeded equity delivery goals and effectively engaged populations of need within the community. 36.2% of the City’s ERA1 and T-RAP1 funds were disbursed to BIPOC applicants. The City was also the first in the state that has successfully distributed 100% of its ERA1 funds.


“Thanks to FORWARD, the City of Spokane was the first in Washington state to distribute 100% of its ERA1 funds successfully. The FORWARD platform was indispensable in administering the Spokane Rental Assistance Program, streamlining all aspects of the program process so households can easily apply for critical funding.”

Margaret Hinson, Former COVID-19 Program Manager, City of Spokane


FORWARD is proud to support the residents of Spokane through the Spokane Rental Assistance Program as they work towards economic recovery in the aftermath of the pandemic. 


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