For renters in Santa Barbara County, help is on the way.
The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors approved a $13.3 million grant to help households in the county with rent, utilities, and related arrears. Arrears are missed payments or debt of a regular payment.
The program will start the week of February 15 and the application is available to all Santa Barbara County residents. It will continue until the relief money runs out or until December 30, 2021, whichever benchmark comes first.
But there are guidelines renters need to meet to qualify for the program. They need a demonstrated need for rental support and a loss of income attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The County said, “the program will give a three-month rental subsidy of up to $6,000 for qualifying residents living in rental units that cannot pay rent because of COVID-19… all residents who meet or make below 80% of the area’s median income (AMI). Households or individuals who make 50% or below AMI will receive priority. ”
Households and individuals will be able to reapply after three months, and if accepted, can be renewed for a maximum of 15 months.
Renters may not receive the money directly themselves and money owed will be paid first. This means, in the case of rent and utility back payment or arrears, the money will be paid directly to landlords and utility providers. Back-rent will be paid prior to receiving money for current or upcoming rent payments.
You will be able to access the application portal on the website starting the week of February 15. The County said they contracted with the United Way of Santa Barbara to carry out the application operation and process.
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.”