Riverside County supervisors OK use of millions for homeless relief


RIVERSIDE (CNS) – Riverside County supervisors Tuesday authorized the county’s Department of Housing, Homelessness Prevention & Workforce Solutions to utilize $15.8 million in federal grants for emergency shelter programs, while other federal funds are being distributed to prevent financially strapped renters from becoming homeless.
“Some of the money will help shelter operators,” agency spokeswoman Heidi Marshall told the Board of Supervisors. “There is money for homeless prevention and rapid re-housing … capital improvements for shelters, expansion of emergency shelter services and street outreach.”
The largest grant, totaling $10.28 million, was awarded to the county by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. That allotment is earmarked for temporary shelter options, according to the county.
The Department of Housing, Homelessness Prevention & Workforce Solutions is also overseeing the county’s Rental Relief Fund, established by the board on June 2. The program relies on $33 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security Act money to help lessees who are at risk of eviction because of unemployment tied to county and state public health orders enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the program, renters can apply for up to three months of financial aid — with no repayment requirements — or receive a maximum cash infusion of $3,500, whichever is less. The coverage period is retroactive to June 1 and continues to Nov. 30.
Marshall told the board that 3,854 applications for assistance have been received so far, and of those, 2,953 families qualified for disbursals.
“Ninety percent indicated that they are not able to pay their rent next month,” she said. “More than half are two to three months behind on their rent.”
Marshall said 45% of applicants are from the eastern county region, including the Coachella Valley, while the remaining 55% are in the western half of the county.
The average unpaid rent balance is $1,900, according to the spokeswoman. Money is distributed directly to landlords, and the first round of payments will be completed within the next couple of weeks.
The county is opening a second application window beginning July 15.
More information is available via the county’s 211 call center, or by visiting www.UnitedLift.org.