Santa Clarita City Council members will revisit Tuesday establishing a rental assistance program for Santa Clarita’s low- and moderate-income renters.
The program would use $6.3 million in federal dollars – part of $25 billion from the U.S. Treasury Department for emergency rental assistance – to support renters struggling to pay rent and utilities due to the pandemic.
The city of Santa Clarita and California are actively discussing plans to roll out an additional $6.8 million in rental assistance funds from the state, according to Michael Villegas, a city management analyst. The two agencies haven’t entered into a formal agreement, though discussions have included assigning responsibility for rental assistance to the city while the state exclusively accepts application for utility assistance.
Villegas added the city is advocating to make support from both federal and state funding concurrently available to renters seeking assistance.
“We’re really hoping to get all of that money to the community sooner rather than later,” Villegas said, noting a 30-day application period opening April 1 pending council’s approval Tuesday.
On Feb. 23, council members declined to administer state funding. During the council’s initial consideration of the program, City Manager Ken Striplin cited the “significant undertaking” required by the city to administer a program encompassing both funding sources. The city anticipates using existing staff to process and handle applications for the federal funding, while hiring new part-time staff with federal funds to provide additional administrative support to applicants.
City staff are working Los Angeles County officials, which operated a similar countywide rental assistance program last year, to determine the estimated demand for the program.
To receive rental assistance applicants must meet all eligibility criteria, including residing in a rental unit in Santa Clarita, having a household income at or below 80% area median income, experiencing a reduction in household income due to COVID-19, and demonstrating that one or more household member is at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability.
Assistance will also depend on the property owner’s participation in the program. The city will directly pay property owners for up to four months of rental arrears on behalf of eligible applicants.
A city staff report indicates the city will give priority to households where one or more member has been unemployed for more than 90 days and households at or below 50% area median income – an amount that varies depending on the size of the household. Fifty percent area median income for a family of four in Los Angeles County is $56,300, while 80% area median income for a four-person household is $92,750, according to the California Department of Housing and Urban Development.