(SANTA BARBARA, Calif.) – 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.
Supervisor and Chair of the Board Bob Nelson said, “These are unforeseen circumstances where for the sake of public health, government restrictions have changed residents’ lives. 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 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.