As the pandemic approaches one year, its economic repercussions are more prevalent than ever.
As bills that were paused at the beginning of the pandemic resume, many are left to figure out how to pay pre-pandemic rates with a reduced paycheck. In response to the continued need for assistance, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors has allocated more than $13 million in funding for rental and utility assistance through 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,” said Steve Ortiz, president and CEO of United Way of S.B. County.
This Emergency Rent Assistance Program aims to reduce the risk of homelessness while simultaneously offering support to county residents.
Applications are open to residents who meet need-based requirements. To qualify, an applicant’s income must be equal to or less than the low-income limit for Santa Barbara County, which is determined by the Area Median Income.
For 2020, the California Department of Housing and Community Development reported that the Area Median Income for a four-person household in Santa Barbara County was $87,800. Used as a benchmark for housing aid, the low-income limit is usually calculated at 80 percent of Area Median Income, while the very low-income limit is typically calculated at 50 percent.
However, increases to income limits for housing assistance programs are made in counties where housing and rental costs are unusually high — Santa Barbara is one of these. As such, the low-income limit for a four-person household in Santa Barbara County is $95,300.
While those who meet the low-income limit are eligible, residents who meet the very low-income limit will be prioritized.
Applicants for aid must also be able to demonstrate income loss resulting from COVID-19.
Those who are approved will be eligible to receive as much as $6,000 over a three-month span and are permitted to re-apply every three months for a maximum of 15 months.
Applications for the program opened in February 2021 and will be available through December 30, 2021, or earlier, if funds are spent sooner.
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