The city of Santa Clarita has spent just over $2 million of the $6.3 million it received from the U.S. Department of Treasury to help Santa Clarita renters who have fallen behind on rent payments.
Renters who qualified for the city’s rental assistance program had an income at or below 80% of the area median income, which amounts to $85,150 or less for a family of three.
Qualified applicants must have also experienced financial hardship due to the pandemic and had a member of their household who can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homeless or housing instability when they applied.
As of Friday, 480 households — of the 845 that applied by the city’s April 30 deadline – have met those qualifications, according to Michael Villegas, the city’s community preservation officer. Another 113 were rejected, said Villegas, noting the most common reason was that the applicant didn’t live in the city.
Villegas said rental payments have been made to 273 households. An additional cohort of 207 households have been approved for funding, and will have their checks sent out Aug. 19.
“We’re probably obligated, including what we’ve expended, for just under $3 million,” he said, noting the average grant amount is $7,910. “(The amount) varies from household to household. Our payments do not exceed five months of rental arrears in full.”
The city modified the number of months of rent it would cover after analyzing the applications it received in April.
On average, applicants were five months behind on rent — one month more than the four months originally anticipated by the city.
“We didn’t think that 12 months of (rental arrears) was appropriate because that could be a payment for someone of $20,000 (to) $50,000, which would take away an amount of money that could go to more groups of people,” said Villegas, contrasting the city’s program with the state’s rental-assistance program.
For renters who have more than five months of rent owed, Villegas said the state covers up to 12 months of unpaid rent, though renters who have received five months from the city would be eligible for another seven months from the state.
“We do a daily data dump to the state,” he said, noting data-sharing keeps the state aware of the support provided by the city.
The city is on track to meet a deadline set by the federal government requiring that the city obligate 65% of the federal funds by the end of September, said Villegas.
For applicants who have not been qualified or rejected yet, Villegas said the city will “continue working with tenants and landlords to ensure all the required information is submitted, so we can push through applications as quickly as possible.”
To access the state’s rental assistance application, visit housing.ca.gov.