Right now, county officials estimate there is upwards of $25 million in rent debt in San Luis Obispo County.
California recently passed the California Rental Assistance Program which will give San Luis Obispo County more than $17 million in rent relief to offset the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
County Supervisor Bruce Gibson said, “[The] money [is] going back to tenants, so they can stay up on their rent, so they can stay in their housing and money also going back to landlords because the ripple effect there is they face foreclosure.”
County leaders will meet in March to discuss rolling out the relief program and the eligibility requirements.
The program includes provisions for landlords whereby they forgive a certain amount of rent debt and get 80% in rent reimbursement.
Ken Trigueiro, the CEO of People’s Self Help Housing, is optimistic about the program.
“Probably, you know, landlords aren’t going to be able to make any profits at this time. But you know, paying the bills is the most important thing,” he said.
Trigueiro said most landlords understand renters are struggling and want to help, too.
The County says landlords will be able to choose which renter's debt they forgive, and it is up to them to be consistent. However, they do have to adhere to Fair Housing and anti-discrimination laws.
The California Rental Assistance Program will provide direct relief to individuals and families.
Elaine Archer, the Housing Director for The Housing Authority of the City of San Luis Obispo, said the program has a few basic requirements thus far, but details still need to be decided.
She believes, “The first priority and preference is going to be given to those who have been unemployed for 90 days or longer or that their income is below 50 percent of area median income for their family size.”
But for some, the program isn't nearly enough.
Carmen Bouqin, a member of Rent Relief SLO County, said it was a start but not what tenants needed from the beginning of the pandemic.
“We asked for a rent freeze, we asked for complete rent relief when this started and if we had gotten that, we wouldn’t be in this situation right now where we’re putting a band-aid over millions of dollars of rent relief,” Bouqin said.
The next San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisor meetings will be on March 2nd and 16th, where they expect to hammer out more of the program details, including eligibility requirements and the application.