BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The days are numbered for the rental assistance program through the Housing Authority of Kern. Wednesday the department announced they will stop taking applications in the coming months.
Through COVID relief funds, the city of Bakersfield and Kern County were given a one-time $80 million grant to help people in the community pay their rent and help landlords recoup their losses. But now the county is down to its last $15 million which not only means they will stop taking applications by the end of August but also change how those applications are processed.
Heather Kimmel, is the assistant executive director of the Housing Authority of the County of Kern. "Until July 1st we will continue accepting applications and processing them on a first come first served basis."
But the biggest change will come after July 1st when for the first time applications will be processed based on priority groupings.
"We will be serving the highest need priority groupings first and we will move through the other priority groups until funding is fully expended," says Kimmel.
With roughly 250 weekly applications consistently coming in since the program started in March 2021 the groupings come as the funds are expected to dry up by the end of August.
"The highest need group is people who are at 50 percent or below of the area median income, who have been unemployed for at least 90 days, or for people who are homeless. The next priority grouping is anyone who is over 50 percent of the area median income but has been unemployed for 90 days or more," explained Kimmel.
The last group is everyone else who does not meet any of that criteria.
In terms of income eligibility, for a household of four 50 percent of the median income in the area would be just under $39,000 a year.
About 10,000 local households have received help through the $65 million that has already been allocated. But that's just a fraction of the total amount of people who need rental assistance.
"Get your application in. If you need the assistance apply now and apply early," says Kimmel.
Although this program is soon ending, there are other programs that will continue. One of them is through the Bakersfield Kern Regional Homeless Collaborative which is reached by calling 211.
If you want to know if you're eligible you can find out more online. Applications can be submitted online or in person at the Housing Authority office in downtown Bakersfield.