More than $10 million in rental and related payment assistance has gone to more than 4,000 households and individuals in Santa Barbara County. Administered by the United Way, several pots of money, both governmental and philanthropic, have helped residents keep body and soul together through the pandemic months.
And it’s not over yet. “I do not have a crystal ball,” said United Way CEO Steve Ortiz, “but I expect the impacts of the pandemic to continue through 2022 and beyond.”
Notably, philanthropic groups, foundations, the cities of Goleta and Santa Barbara, and the County of Santa Barbara have pitched into the effort. Ortiz said 3,241 individuals or households countywide received individual assistance awards totaling $4.8 million based on need for rental and utility payments.
The County of Santa Barbara allocated $13 million in an Emergency Rent Assistance Program (ERAP), which was funded through federal funds received by the California Department of Housing and Community Development. While United Way has received more than 6,500 applications for aid, just over 3,000 of them are approved by the Family Services Agency, which is meeting with renters and assessing financial and other requirements. All the funds have specific guidelines and limitations, Ortiz said. From the ERAP fund, 640 families have so far received $6.4 million.
The demand is so great that the spillover is being referred to the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance application portal, Ortiz said, as was anticipated. The state program holds $14 million to be apportioned to Santa Barbara County residents, and the application portal is at housing.ca.gov.
“We have helped thousands of local individuals through various funding sources since the start of the pandemic,” Ortiz said, and he predicted, “The need will continue.”
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