COVID-19 Rental Assistance Grant Program supports Yolo County residents at risk of being displaced, unable to pay rent

COVID-19 Rental Assistance Grant Program supports Yolo County residents at risk of being displaced, unable to pay rent

Photo Credits: AGGIE FILE

Low-income households in Davis can receive grant of up to $4,000 if eligible

Yolo County announced a COVID-19 Rental Assistance Grant Program to support Yolo County residents in a press release published on Oct. 16. The program will help individuals who have a higher risk of being displaced due to not being able to pay rent as a result of the pandemic, and to “offset corresponding lost revenue that landlords need to provide housing services.”

The program, which consists of a “one-time rent and utilities grant,” will be provided to tenants who are low-income and have not been able to pay rent fully due to the hardships caused by COVID-19. These include an increase in childcare or medical costs, a decrease or loss of wages and employment and a “loss of childcare.”

The types of assistance provided are security deposits and rent assistance, in addition to  utility costs and utility deposits.

Students, however, are not eligible for the program unless they meet certain exemptions. For example, they may be eligible for the program if they have dependent children, are over the age of 24, are a veteran of the U.S. military or are married.

Colleen Brock, the senior management analyst at Yolo County Housing and the program’s administrator for the City of Davis, explained via email that emancipated young people or those who have aged out of foster care could also be eligible. 

More information regarding the exemptions students need to meet in order to be eligible for the program, as well as information about general applicant eligibility and the process of applying, can be found on the Yolo County Housing website.

Public Information Officer at Yolo County Jenny Tan described the goal of the program. 

“The program provides a one-time rent relief grant directly to landlords on behalf of low-income tenants to reduce burden on tenants and ensure landlords receive the revenue needed to maintain housing services,” Tan said via email. 

People will need to apply for the program in order to receive the grant, according to Tan.

“Tenants must apply,” Tan said via email. “It’s on a first come, first served basis and when the funding runs out, the program will end/close. The application is pretty simple but tenants do need to show proof of their economic impact and they must be very low income tenants or low income tenants with high rent burden.”

Information about what qualifies as “very low income” and the application can be found on Yolo County Housing’s website.

For example, very low income tenants can have up to 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI) and low income tenants can have up to 80% AMI with a high rent burden (at least 30%). 

Stimulus payments such as Economic Impact Payments and the $600 per week Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation from the CARES Act, however, are not counted as part of income in determining someone’s eligibility for this program.

There is also a cap to the amount that can be allocated to each household.

“The program caps each household to a one-time grant of $4,000 in the City of Davis or $3,000 everywhere else in Yolo County,” Tan said via email. “The City of Davis is a bit more because they received some additional funding for this program.”

A news statement from the City of Davis further described the scope of the program.

“The program bridges the gap between what the tenant can afford and the tenant’s actual rent,” the statement reads. “The required tenant’s share of rent is 10% of adjusted gross monthly income. The share of monthly rental assistance will be the difference between the actual rent and the tenant payment.”

Ultimately, Gary Sandy, the chair of the Yolo County Board of Supervisors, said in the press release that the program is meant to support residents who may have been financially impacted by the pandemic and thus unable to afford rent. 

“This grant opportunity provides rent and utilities relief to those who have been financially devastated by the COVID-19 crisis,” Sandy said in the press release. “Given that these funds are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, it is imperative that renters move rapidly in applying.”

 Written by: Shraddha Jhingan — city@theaggie.org