The pandemic has caused many households to experience losses of income and jobs, potentially putting some at risk of homelessness
The City of Sacramento is going “to receive an additional $31.7 million in state and federal funding to assist low-income city residents who are unable to pay rent and have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a media release from Sacramento City Express.
Around $15.2 million of this aid is from the recent federal stimulus package, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, and $16.4 million is from the SB 91 Bill, which was passed recently and extended the State of California’s Eviction Moratorium to June 30, 2021, according to the media release.
The Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency (SHRA) will be managing the funds, and applications are open through March 19. The eligibility of households to utilize the funds is not dependent on immigration status. More details can be found in the media release.
SHRA Assistant Director MaryLiz Paulson explained that the idea for the program originated as a result of nationwide concerns about households being unable to back pay rent.
“President [Donald] Trump signed the stimulus bill on Dec. 27, 2020 making funds available for rental assistance, and then Governor [Gavin] Newsom signed SB91 on Jan. 29 making state funds available,” Paulson said via email. “This was in response to national concerns about low-income families that are unable to pay rent due to the COVID pandemic.”
Paulson added that the applications opened recently, “so information is just coming in.”
Additionally, most work has been completed online due to the pandemic.
“In general, we have been working through online portals, reducing the need for face-to-face contact or even sharing paper documents,” Paulson said.
Housing Policy Manager for the City of Sacramento Danielle Foster explained that the pandemic has caused thousands of families in the city to be at-risk of losing their housing due to lost jobs and income. Increased demand for housing in other parts of California has also affected the region.
“Through the leadership of our mayor and council, the city has been able to implement a multitude of housing and homeless resources totaling more than $90 million this last year to directly assist our community impacted by the pandemic,” Foster said via email. “Our region is further impacted by increases in rents and housing prices due to greater demand on local housing from Bay Area transplants due to the mass increase of work-from-home options.”
Foster added that SHRA and “local community-based organizations” will be working to distribute the funds rapidly “to as many people as possible, including those residents who are most difficult to reach due to language and cultural barriers.”
In addition to these funds, there are also “free COVID-related landlord and tenant mediation services available for both commercial and residential tenants,” to assist residents who may have conflicts with their tenant or landlord as a result of the pandemic or eviction moratorium. People who may be interested in using these services can visit the website or call 916-850-9010.
Yolo County Housing Interim Chief Executive Officer Sandra Sigrist described that, in Yolo County, the pandemic has caused landlords and tenants to be thrown “into tenuous circumstances as both try to find a path to sustainability.”
“Having said that, the rental assistance available for individuals who meet low income guidelines has reportedly been helpful for both groups, and the pending State-administered rental assistance program launching locally in mid-March, will provide further relief,” Sigrist said via email.
Some housing options that Yolo County has included are voucher subsidies, public housing, partnerships with apartment complexes, “single home collaborative programs,” as well as Migrant Agricultural Family housing, according to Sigrist. Yolo County Housing has been focusing on outreach to ensure that people have access to housing.
“While safety protocols have been at the forefront, the focus of our efforts has continued to be on supporting safe and affordable housing for all of those who are eligible for the programs we administer,” Sigrist said. “It’s involved a lot more reaching out to check in with people, rather than only responding when people contact the offices.”
Ultimately, Foster explained that these funds are meant to help those who may have been affected by the pandemic and may not be able to pay rent.
“If you are a low-income renter that has been impacted by COVID-19, please apply for this rent and utility assistance,” Foster said. “This assistance can cover back-owed rent and utilities from April 2020 and through June 2021.”
Written by: Shraddha Jhingan — firstname.lastname@example.org