The federal funding will help low-income residents cover past-due rent.
“It’s definitely much needed in our community,” Mayor Pro Tem David Penaloza said during the July 6 meeting. “There’s a lot of members of our community that are hurting right now and need help, and it’s going to go a long way.
“These are trying times, and our residents are full of anxiety of just being able to pay the rent, and this is extremely important that we try to get this money to them as quickly as possible.”
The council approved an initial $9.8 million in federal rental assistance on Feb. 16.
“On June 1, we began paying 100 percent of the past due rent for the families who have applied,” Judson Brown, Santa Ana housing division manager, said during the July 6 council meeting.
Families with the lowest incomes are being prioritized for the rental assistance, Brown said.
More than 350 applications have been submitted since June 1, Brown said, with another 400 applications being processed.
Brown said families that apply for the rental assistance today could receive the financial help by October or November.
He said $4 million has been approved for allocation to families, however, only $2.5 million has been distributed to applicants due to “unresponsive landlords.”
The rental assistance normally goes to the landlord directly to recoup the money their tenants owe. However, “landlords are not responding to our requests,” Brown said.
The city decided to give landlords a week to reply to requests for rental assistance, otherwise, the funds will be distributed to the tenants directly.
“It’s a very hard deadline,” Brown said.
Landlords or tenants that receive the funds will need to fill out a contractual participation agreement that certifies they use the funds only to pay their past-due rent.
“Beyond that, the department of treasury doesn’t require us to have any additional verification that actual payment was made to their landlord,” Brown said.
Families that have been evicted and are residing in motels are not eligible for these funds. However, the city offers other programs, such as Families Forward, which offer motel vouchers to families experiencing homelessness.