‘There were still so many that needed help’: Sacramento looking to expand rental assistance program

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The Latest — (Wednesday, Feb. 17)

5:30 a.m.

Tuesday night, The Sacramento City Council voted to allocate another $31.7 million to help people struggling to pay their rent during the pandemic.

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The Sacramento City Council is poised Tuesday night to extend a program that is expected to help several thousand tenants who are behind on their rent due to the pandemic.

Beginning last September, the city was able to gather around $5.6 million from different funding sources to give out rental grants to lower-income renters who had lost their jobs and couldn’t pay rent.

That money was dispersed to over 1,400 applicants by the end of the year.

“While that helped many families survive and keep them from being displaced and ending up unhoused on our streets, there were still so many that needed help,” said Councilman Eric Guerra.

That was shown by the response to a much smaller program run by the faith-based Sacramento Area Congregations Together.

“Within a few days, we had over 300 applications, so the need was tremendous,” Sacramento ACT spokeswoman Shireen Miles said.

With unemployment number still at record highs, groups that aid low-income families wholeheartedly support the expansion of the program.

Rent moratoriums put into place still require back rent to eventually be paid. The program helps both renters, as well as small landlords, who are under stress as the economy slowly recovers.

The city is looking at tweaking the criteria for the new set of rental assistance grants.

“Getting up to 80% of your rent, the past program had a cap of $4,000 maximum. That cap will no longer exist,” Guerra said. “We will be looking at what is the maximum that we can actually help with.”

The city will also be working with community groups to publicize the program among low-income renters.

Later in the month, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors will be looking to add more money into the program.

People can find out about the rental assistance program by contacting the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency or through the city’s 311 assistance line.

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