Seaside gets additional $300K for rental, utility assistance program

SEASIDE — The city of Seaside’s Residential Rent and Utility Assistance Program recently received an infusion of $300,000 in funding from Monterey County and United Way’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

But the money will not be going to new applicants because as of April 15, applications were no longer being accepted.

“The additional funding was accepted to cover the backlog of applicants still waiting to receive assistance,” said Ben Nurse, Seaside’s Housing Program manager.

The Monterey County Emergency Rental Assistance Program’s goal is to distribute funding to provide rental and utility assistance to eligible low-income Monterey County residents facing housing instability due to a loss or reduction of income as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

United Way Monterey County President and CEO Katy Castagna said that the combined federal and state assistance for rent and utilities funding for Monterey County now totals $51.5 million. After dispersing the funding to various agencies and organizations countywide, there is about $7 million still waiting to be distributed.

Castagna said there are 766 applications in the county waiting to be processed.

There is a lot of back and forth in getting the required documentation for those eligible, and depending on the individual, it can take months to get through the process, said Castagna.

Seaside’s rent and utility assistance program for eligible residents started in March 2021, when the City Council accepted a grant award of $575,000 from the county and United Way’s SB91 Emergency Rental Assistance Program to support the city’s program.

So far, Seaside has received about $1.9 million from the Monterey County and United Way Emergency Rental Assistance Program, with about $90,000 of that going annually to fund an administrative assistant to support the city’s program.

In September 2021, the City Council accepted additional program funding from Monterey County and United Way in the amount of $1,016,648 to support Seaside’s rent and utility assistance program specifically allotting $926,832 to be used for direct assistance to qualified recipients under the program and $89,816 to pay for an administrative assistant. The council approved a full-time position in the Housing Fund budget beginning in January.

The total funds granted to the city of Seaside for its residential rent and utility assistance program is $1,891,648.

The city’s website says the program provides households in the city of Seaside with assistance if they meet four eligibility requirements. Those seeking assistance need to live in the city of Seaside, have lost income due to COVID-19, are behind on rent or any utility payments, and have income that is less than 80% of the area’s median.

To be eligible for the rental and utility support through the Monterey County ERAP, residents need to be at or below 80% Area Median Income of Monterey County. (UWMC)
To be eligible for the rental and utility support through the Monterey County ERAP, residents need to be at or below 80% Area Median Income of Monterey County. (UWMC)

The program is administered by United Way Monterey County and Monterey County. The city of Seaside is a partnering agency.

According to Seaside’s Housing Program manager, applicants apply through United Way’s website or by calling 211. They are then assigned to a local partnering agency. The applicant’s local agency will then collect the necessary documents to determine the applicant’s eligibility.

“Once eligibility is confirmed, a contract is written up between the city of Seaside, the tenant, and the landlord,” said Nurse. “The city of Seaside will make the payment directly to landlords or utility service providers.”

Nurse said 161 Seaside residents have been assisted by the city through its rent and utility assistance program, and about 130 are backlogged on a waitlist.

Not everybody is eligible for this assistance but there are other resources available on the United Way Monterey County website, said Castagna.

Contributed by local news sources

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