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Updates on the rental and mortgage assistance program in Kern County

Posted at 7:02 PM, Aug 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-25 22:02:41-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — On Tuesday the Kern County Board of Supervisors approved $5 million dollars to be granted to residents in need rental and mortgage assistance. Individuals at or below 80% of the area median income who have been impacted by COVID-19, and are facing eviction or foreclosure can receive up to $5,000 dollars per family.

According to Supervisor Leticia Perez's office, there is no date set on when the funds will be distributed or applications will be available. The money granted to families will be on a first come first serve basis. CAPK and the Housing Authority of Kern County are still creating the process. Supervisor Perez's office said the process should be completes within the coming weeks.

23ABC reached out to the Housing Authority of Kern for more details but the office said, "We are still developing details on the program and will be holding off on interviews until we have information to provide and specifics."

Supervisor Perez's office says the process should be completed within the coming weeks. 23ABC also asked Supervisor Perez if the funds approved by the city and county will be enough to help those residents facing eviction or foreclosure.

"It's significant and I'm curious to see where we will be within the next week. We should get information from the Governor soon about the eviction moratorium, that will of course alter the dynamics of the conversation. But as the applications begin to come in and we get a better sense of folks that are impacted by COVID and are having these issues, we'll know. We do have some flexibility and we will come back to the Board and address the issue if it's not enough and we'll do all that we can to fight for more," said Perez

23ABC asked Supervisor Perez if the Board of Supervisors can create their own moratorium on evictions. Perez said, "I believe that we can should the need be presented. I don't know if the political will exists to do such a thing. My suspicion would be no but we haven't had that conversation and when we do it will happen in public."

Policy advocate Jasmene del Aguila said the funds are a good start but there is more to be done, and the county could be more proactive at making sure residents stay in their homes. She also believes there needs to be more local protections for vulnerable populations who already have stressors. Recently, the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, mayor of Arvin and others proposed three action items to the Board of Supervisors. Which include utility assistance, a fully funded right to counsel policy and an urgency ordinance.

"That would block all evictions in the County of Kern. That would prevent folks from being evicted and would take the stress away from residents that are having to choose between buying food or paying rent," said del Aguila.