After receiving $13,373,876 from the federal government through the federal emergency rental assistance portion of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted on Feb. 9 to approve the eight-figure sum for disbursement to qualifying residents who have “experienced a loss in income due to COVID-19 and can demonstrate the need for rental support,” 3rd District Representative Joan Hartmann said in a press release.
The rental assistance program has been in service since Feb. 15 and will continue to be in service until Dec. 30 or unless funds run out sooner, according to the press release.
The $13.3 million will be used to provide a rental subsidy of $6,000 to eligible households for three months, after which qualifying households will be allowed to reapply for an additional three months of assistance, according to the press release. Qualifying households can utilize this program for a total of 15 months.
All payments will be made directly from the county to the landlord or utility provider.
According to Dinah Lockhart, the deputy director of the Santa Barbara County Housing and Community Development division, eligible households must be on unemployment, have experienced a loss of income, accrued significant costs or experienced financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, qualifying households must demonstrate a risk of experiencing houselessness or housing instability and have a household income at or below 80% of area median income (AMI). In Santa Barbara County, 80% of the AMI is $66,750 for a household of one person, according to Lockhart.
Lockhart said in a statement to the Nexus that a household’s income would be judged as the total household income from 2020, or the monthly income when applying for assistance.
If a student were to apply for rental assistance and was reported under their parent’s tax returns, Lockhart said they would be evaluated as a part of their parent’s household. If not, they would be considered their own independent household and their eligibility would be determined through their independent income.
“Priority for rental assistance is for rental arrears under the County’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program. If the working or formerly working student household has rental arrears, they may be eligible for assistance,” Lockhart said in a statement to the Nexus.
Lockhart encouraged students in university housing to reach out to UC Santa Barbara for financial help before going to the county.