SALT LAKE CITY — Utah renters receiving unemployment checks are now eligible for state grants to allow them to stay in their homes.

The Utah Department of Workforce Services announced the change Wednesday, saying it wants to help more Utahns make ends meet after an extra $600 in federal unemployment assistance ceased last month.

The grants of up to $2,000 for rent and utilities are available to renters in the state hit financially by the coronavirus. Previously, those getting jobless benefits — including more than 83,000 in the state who filed continued claims in July — were ineligible.

Tenant advocates have raised concerns of a looming surge in evictions after state and federal holds on evictions expired and the extra unemployment money ran out. But those who represent landlords have said the fears are overblown, noting evictions did not immediately rebound in June after Gov. Gary Herbert allowed a statewide moratorium to end.

The state has set aside a total of $383,103 for 285 households since May, with help from local nonprofits statewide, the department said. The Utah Legislature set aside $20 million in federal relief money for the program after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provided an initial chunk of money.

Jess Peterson, state housing programs manager, said the program will continue to adjust to fallout from the pandemic.

“Our goal is to help people stay in their homes and maintain the stability of their families during these hard times,” Peterson said.  

More information about who can get the assistance is available from the 2-1-1 hotline.