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Central Coast's 5Cities Homeless Coalition requests for housing assistance skyrocket

Posted at 12:27 PM, Apr 03, 2020

A San Luis Obispo County non-profit working to help people with rental assistance is seeing a significant increase in calls for service amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Our biggest issue right now is keep people in house who are in danger of losing and getting people rehoused when they lose their house. That's what we do as an agency," Mike Byrd, president of The 5Cities Homeless Coalition, said. "That's putting a lot of stress on our system right now. People can't pay their rent. They lost their jobs, they are at home with their kids, they are having all kinds of problems so our requests for service are just skyrocketing."

Even with Governor Newsom's edict that puts on a hold on evictions for a lack of rent payment, calls for assistance could grow even more.

"That's entirely likely," Byrd said. "Say I can't pay this month's rent because I lost my job. Three months down the road, I now owe three month's rent. Maybe I got my job back but if I didn't have enough savings to pay one month's rent, how am I going to be three months rent? So yeah, it's going to be a big problem."

The coalition deals with hundreds of calls for help every month. Byrd says he believes that has doubled and won't be slowing down any time soon as bills will continue to pile up for residents.

"We're dealing with what we've always done, but on a gargantuan scale," he said.

They are sheltering 15 people who have underlying health conditions and are elderly.

"We have some in motel rooms, we have some at campgrounds. We have to get them food, medication, check in on their health every day. So that puts another strain on us."

That strain is now weighing financially on the 5CHC. Without the chance to fundraise traditionally, the goal is to figure out a way to raise $50,000 by May to get through the challenging month.

"Our emergent needs fund is really getting slammed with folks on the verge of eviction because they can't pay rent. Now they have a break in it that they can't be evicted under Governor Newsom's edict," Byrd said. "However, the rent still accumulates. So we have a huge need for rent assistance. We have a huge need for getting people into shelter. And our fundraising has been off."

But the focus is still on people in need.

"Give us a call and we'll see what we can do to help," Byrd said. He praised his staff for working long hours, efforting assistance to all who ask for it. With the strain on resources, Byrd also called on the community for any financial donations to the non-profit group.

You can help make a donation by visiting 5CHC's website here.

If you are in need of assistance or know of someone who does, you can give them a call at (805) 574-1638 or email at