HEALTH MINDED . . .
More Than $13 Million in Rental and Utility Assistance Funds Made Available by the County of Santa Barbara through United Way of Santa Barbara County
Grants intend to prevent homelessness by providing rent assistance to residents
Grant applications can be found by visiting unitedwaysb.org/rent
United Way of Santa Barbara County (UWSBC) has more than $13 million in rental and utility assistance funds generously allocated by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors for eligible County of Santa Barbara residents, that have experienced a loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This Emergency Rent Assistance Program is intended to prevent homelessness by providing rent assistance to residents who can demonstrate the need for rental support.
Upon application approval, applicants may receive up to $6,000 over 3 months toward rental and utility expenses. Applicants can re-apply every 3 months up to maximum of 15 months. Assistance payments to applicants will be paid directly to landlord and/or utility providers on behalf of the applicant.
“This rental and utility support is a lifeline for families who are dealing with the myriad of economic impacts due to COVID-19,” said Steve Ortiz, President and CEO of United Way of Santa Barbara County. “We are honored to have the County of Santa Barbara’s trust and partnership as we work to distribute these funds and provide significant relief to Santa Barbara County individuals and families during these difficult times,” said Ortiz.
The program will be available to all county residents at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), though qualifying individuals at or below 50 percent AMI will be prioritized. This program has strict eligibility requirements.
The program application process opened February 15 and will be available until all funds are expended or by December 30, 2021, whichever is first. To review eligibility requirements and to apply, please visit www.unitedwaysb.org/rent
About United Way of Santa Barbara County
United Way of Santa Barbara County (UWSBC) has the unique and positive vision that “in our community, everyone has a hopeful future.” Since 1923, UWSBC has served Santa Barbara County community through funding, volunteer development, and by utilizing its own unique initiatives that involve dozens of local nonprofit and public sector agencies. UWSBC’s local community driven Power of Partnership™ priorities help children, families and seniors with a focus on Education, Income and Health. To learn more, please visit unitedwaysb.org.
February 10, 2021 Report from Das Williams on Corona Virus Santa Barbara
At yesterday's Board of Supervisors hearing, we received an update from the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department.
Over the last two weeks, the number of active COVID-19 cases have been cut in half and we are seeing decreases in every area of Santa Barbara County. Our adjusted case rate is 36.4 and our positivity rate is 10.2. This is a significant improvement over the numbers we heard just a week ago.
Given the downward trend in cases, the Board supported the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department sending a letter to the California Department of Public Health to allow the reopening of the Santa Barbara Unified School District. The rationale for supporting reopening is that there are existing schools in the same geographic area that were allowed to reopen under the school Waiver Process or Red Tier and disadvantaged students should have the same opportunities for in-person instruction as other schools in the same areas.
We know you are understandably anxious about vaccines. Our Public Health staff have the sites, systems, mobile unit, and people to ramp up vaccine distribution, but what we don’t have is very many vaccines. Part of that is good, we have been able to administer the vast majority of those doses. Part is not good: we receive an average of 6,000 doses per week, enough to only cover 1.3% of countywide population once or .67% if you count both doses.
But we have cause for optimism, as several factors are expected to improve supply later this month. And before you look for someone else to hold accountable, you should know vaccine supply is largely based on how much the manufacturers can produce, how much the federal government pre-ordered last year, how many they have been able to order since, and how many they ship to the state.
I will continue to send notifications as vaccine appointments become available. If you are 75 or older and need assistance in scheduling appointments, you can call 2-1-1 and press option “4.”
More Details on Rental Assistance
The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 included $25 billion in federal emergency rental assistance. From that, Santa Barbara County received an allocation of $13,373,876. Yesterday, the County Board of Supervisors voted to approve $13.3 million to 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, and can demonstrate the need for rental support.
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.
The program will be available to all county residents at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), though qualifying individuals at or below 50 percent AMI will be prioritized.
The County has contracted with the United Way of Santa Barbara to administer the program application process, which will begin the week of February 15. The program will be available until all funds are expended or by December 30, 2021, whichever is first. For program eligibility information, go to www.unitedwaysb.org/covid19-financial-assistance, where more information will be posted next week.
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