Santa Barbara County’s efforts to curb homelessness will receive some much-needed assistance thanks to this year’s federal stimulus package.

The U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, under the direction of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, granted the county $829,900 to help prevent low-income residents from slipping into homelessness. Last week, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to distribute the money to several community organizations including Transition House and Casa Esperanza.

Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr expressed gratitude for the grant, which is expected to last three years, but warned that the money may not last.

“It sounds like a lot of money, and we were grateful to get it, but if you think about how great the need is now…” Farr said. “It’s supposed to be a three-year grant, and when you think about how many people need help, we certainly could have used a lot more money. It could run out before then.”

Eligible residents will receive assistance in paying security deposits, rent and other expenditures related to acquiring or maintaining rental housing.

According to Farr, the grant specifically targets residents who have been hit hard by the current financial crisis.

“They’re going to use that money to help people that have either recently become homeless find housing, or people who are right on edge and about to lose housing if they don’t get financial assistance,” Farr said.

In the South County, Transition House and Casa Esperanza Homeless Centers received a grant for $442,973, while Legal Aid Foundation and the Rental Housing Mediation Task Force received $42,000 for legal mediation services and case management activities.

In the North County, a group of organizations including Good Samaritan Shelters, Inc., the Legal Aid Foundation and Catholic Charities received a grant for $323,315.

The Santa Barbara County’s Housing and Community Development Dept. received the ARRA money under the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program. The funding will be available beginning Oct. 1.

In order to qualify for assistance, residents must either be homeless or at imminent risk of homelessness and be at or below 50 percent of the area medium income. The individual organizations are responsible for assessing each client’s eligibility.