SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - United Way has partnered with Santa Barbara County to deliver roughly $2 million in rental assistance to families in need living in unincorporated areas of the county.
The funding comes from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which gave Santa Barbara County about $46 million in funding.
The County Board of Supervisors set aside $7.5 of that CARES Act funding for local "vulnerable populations," with $2 million of that figure going to emergency rental assistance to help families and individuals who have lost jobs or seen incomes cut due to the COVID-19 crisis.
The United Way of Santa Barbara County is spreading the word. The organization is offering online resources and an application to help deliver the rental assistance to families in need, in unincorporated areas of the County.
“It’s really a domino effect,” said Steve Ortiz, president and CEO of United Way of Santa Barbara County. “They lose their job. It leads to food insecurity, the need for rental assistance and other needs.”
Cities like Santa Barbara and Goleta had similar funding allocated for emergency rental assistance. The County, however, still has roughly $1 million to give to eligible families before a deadline at the end of November.
Families or individuals seeking the assistance must have lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic and live in unincorporated areas of the County, and can check if their address is eligible using this map from United Way. Eligible families must also fall below certain income thresholds.
“Probably more than 10 [or] 20,000 families and individuals out there who are eligible, but may not have heard the news about this assistance,” said Dinah Lockhart, Deputy Director for the County’s Housing and Community Development Division.
Lockhart also praised the United Way's reach and resources, creating an important partnership with the County.
"Not only are we able to get rental assistance out to families, but families can talk to a case manager and talk about other concerns they might have," she said.
If approved, families can receive up to $1,000 of rental assistance per month for up to three months. Payments would go directly to landlords to ensure the assistance goes directly to rent payments.
Michael Kling and his family were one of the recipients. After he and his wife lost their jobs in the spring, they were able to get by for a few months using unemployment benefits and their savings.
The rental assistance from the United Way, however, has really allowed the family to get back on its feet.
“This has been a little bit of a ray of sunshine, I think, to give us that extra housing security,” said Kling, whose three-month rent assistance ends after next month. “Knowing that everything’s taken care of now through November, as we go up into the holidays… I think that it’s really, it’s made a big difference to us.”