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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on September 1st, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 27 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 21, Issue 27

Rental assistance available for most eligible North County residents

By Malea Martin

The city of Santa Maria announced a new emergency rental assistance program on Aug. 27 for low- to moderate-income households that have experienced a decrease in income as a result of COVID-19.

Made possible through special Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding that’s targeted at pandemic response, the program offers up to three months of assistance, a maximum of $5,000, to qualified households. 

In Santa Maria, qualified households are those that earn 80 percent or less of area median income. A four-person household, for example, would qualify if its total annual income is $95,300 or less, city Grants Specialist Alicia Vela told the Sun. That maximum qualifying amount increases or decreases depending on the number of individuals in the household, and the exact guidelines can be found on the county’s website. 

Santa Barbara County received the same special funding to provide a rental assistance program for its unincorporated areas. The funds will also be available for residents in Carpinteria, Buellton, Solvang, Guadalupe, and Goleta. 

“It’s the same application and the same process,” Santa Maria Community Programs Manager Rosie Rojo said. “We teamed up to streamline it so that it would be as easy as possible for almost anybody in the county to apply.”

Those interested can apply online at countyofsb.org/housing. The deadline to apply online is 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 4, though county Grants and Programs Manager Laurie Baker said that people should apply as soon as they can. The deadline could close earlier depending on the number of applicants. 

The application is available in Spanish and several other languages, and people can apply regardless of their citizenship status, Rojo said. Eligible applicants must reside in unincorporated areas of the county, Santa Maria, Buellton, Solvang, Guadalupe, Goleta, or Carpinteria. 

Santa Maria is what’s called an “entitlement community,” Rojo said, meaning the city automatically received the special funds, called CDBG-CV, from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, as did the county for its unincorporated areas. CDBG-CV funds must be used to prepare, prevent, or respond to COVID-19, Rojo said. This includes, but is not limited to, rental assistance.

“We automatically got [CDBG-CV] funding from the government, based on our low- to moderate-income population,” Rojo said. 

But not all cities in Santa Barbara County are entitlement communities, she continued.

“Then you’ve got cities like Solvang, Guadalupe, and Buellton,” she said. “They actually have to apply, and they don’t automatically get the funding. For this extra money that rolled out, they did not get additional money like [Santa Maria] did.”

To ensure that these communities also have access to rental assistance, Rojo said the county is “doing everybody a solid” by allowing residents in these communities to also apply for the CDBG-CV funding pool.

“The one city that is not included is Lompoc,” Rojo said. “Lompoc is also an entitlement city, but Lompoc decided not to participate in the rental assistance program. They’re opting to use their funding for utility assistance for their residents.” 

The utility program is accessible from the city of Lompoc’s website at cityoflompoc.com.

Rojo added that the city of Santa Barbara is doing a separate rental assistance program for its residents, run through United Way. 

“We want to make sure that we’re as inclusive as possible,” Rojo said. “We’re doing the best we can under the circumstances and with a limited amount of resources. There’s a lot of people needing assistance.”










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Would a second stay-at-home order be effective at slowing the spread of COVID-19?

No, pandemic fatigue is too high to get people to follow a stay-at-home order.
Yes, we need it, otherwise our hospitals will be in rough shape.
Local governments should get a say—not all purple tier counties are the same.
It would be bad news for the economy.

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