BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Starting Thursday several states including California are lifting eviction bans impacting millions of renters just as we head into the holiday season with Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas just weeks away. And only a small portion of the billions of dollars in federal housing assistance has reached those who need it most.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition says there are roughly 6.5 million households behind on rent after losing jobs, work hours, and wages during the pandemic. And now that eviction ban safety net is disappearing for millions of tenants.
Rent and Utility Assistance Program Eligibility:
- At lease one member of you household qualifies for unemployment or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19.
- Demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; and
- Have a household income at or below 80 percent of the area median; and
- Are a renter in the City of Bakersfield or Kern County
The Housing Coalition also says only about $10 billion of the $45 billion in aid allocated by Congress has gone out to people in danger of losing the roofs over their heads. Housing advocates say more needs to be done federally but also, on the state and local levels.
Meanwhile, in California, around 30 to 40 percent of households are at risk of eviction according to a study by the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program.
In Kern County, the Housing Authority has seen a spike in people calling about the rental assistance program in September. So far they have helped around 2,400 households with rental assistance but say they have more than enough funds to continue.
Although the deadline is Thursday, people can still apply for rental assistance after but they do encourage those to do it as early as possible as this application can save you from being evicted.
Heather Kimmel with the Kern County Housing Authority adds we will see a large number of evictions being filed Friday for those who do not qualify for the program but recommends those who haven’t applied to at least try.
"If a tenant has applied for the rent and utilities assistance program, the eviction cannot proceed until there has been a decision on that application."
Landlords are also able to begin the application process as a sort of referral for their tenants. Starting Friday, the landlord must actually first file that application before filing an eviction with the court. That option however is only for when the issue is the tenant's failure to pay rent.