Santa Maria residents struggling to pay rent during the COVID-19 pandemic have until Friday to apply for rental assistance through the Community Development Block Grant program.
The program, which opened Monday, offers up to three months, or $5,000 maximum, of rental assistance to qualifying families, with applications processed on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Renters interested in applying must meet several criteria: They cannot receive permanent rent subsidies such as those provided via Section 8 or reside in housing units provided through subsidy programs; they must have experienced a loss of income related to COVID-19 with no other resources to pay rent; they must plan to stay in their current unit; and they must qualify as a low-income household.
To qualify as a low-income household, applicants must meet 80% or less of the area median income depending on the number of people per household. For one-person households, the limit is $66,750; for two-person households, $76,250; for three-person households, $85,800; for four-person households, $95,300, and so on.
Rental assistance may not be used for housing costs other than rent, such as moving expenses, utilities or security deposits, according to the county Housing and Community Development Department.
City staff anticipate being able to help between 60 and 70 Santa Maria families with the CDBG funds set aside for this purpose, according to Rosie Rojo, community projects manager for the city.
"I can say that we have received a huge response from the community, so it is obvious that the need is there," Rojo said.
The same assistance program is being offered to residents of Goleta who receive up to 60% of the area median income, and a program for residents in unincorporated Santa Barbara County is expected to be offered this month, according to the county.
The application can be found at countyofsb.org/housing, along with more details.
For more information, contact the Special Projects Division of the Community Development Department at 805-925-0951, ext. 2118.
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