The Santa Barbara County Supervisors on Tuesday voted to approve $13.3 million in rent and utility assistance.
The funds are from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which included $25 billion in federal emergency rental assistance. From that, the county received an allocation of $13,373,876. The funds will provide direct assistance to renter households in the form of rent, rental arrears, utilities and utility arrears to eligible residents countywide who have experienced a loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a news release.
The program will provide a three-month rental subsidy up to $6,000 for qualifying households currently living in rental units that cannot pay rent because of a loss or reduction of income due to COVID-19. Qualifying households are eligible to thereafter re-apply for an additional three months of rent assistance up to a total of 15 months.
Rent payments will be made directly to landlords, which must be applied to any arrears for back-rent before any current or future rent. Applicants will also be eligible for utility payment assistance. Utility payments will be made directly to utility providers, officials said.
The program will be available to all county residents at or below 80% of the Area Median Income, though qualifying individuals at or below 50% AMI will be prioritized.
“These are unforeseen circumstances where for the sake of public health, government restrictions have changed residents’ lives,” Board Chair and 4th District Supervisor Bob Nelson said in a statement. “Some of those changes have resulted in lost jobs and therefore the inability to afford rent, food, medicine or other necessary expenses. With this program, many of these individuals can now meet these basic needs.”
The county has contracted with the United Way of Santa Barbara to administer the program application process, which will begin on Monday. The program will be available until all funds are expended, or by Dec. 30, whichever is first.
Additional information will be available as early as next week at www.unitedwaysb.org/covid19-financial-assistance.
— Mitchell White