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Seeking to help Fresno residents stay in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, the city started taking applications for its housing retention program.

Fresnans can apply for the $1.5 million first round of funding starting today. While it will be on a first-come, first-serve basis, more money is in the pipeline.

“The city will look to invest $5 million to try and help our residents in the city avoid displacement of their homes or go into the homeless community,” Fresno City Council President Miguel Arias said in a news conference Wednesday via Zoom.

Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria said she is “committed” to spend more than $5 million to provide assistance.

The grants will be $1,500 for an individual or $3,000 per family. There are three criteria: an applicant must be a Fresno resident, must face a COVID-19 hardship such as a loss of income, and must meet certain income guidelines.

The money comes from federal stimulus funds through the CARES Act. The city will partner with six community organizations to take in applications.

“We want to make sure that all the residents are able to get caught up with rent,” Soria said. “It’s July 1st and many families are trying to figure out how many not only going to pay for July 1st, but how am I going to make up maybe the last two months that they have been unable to pay.”

Soria says checks can be distributed in one week.

An Expected Surge

The six organizations said they’ve already been inundated with phone calls.

“We ask the public that to bear with us because I got three people who are answering the phones and we cannot keep up with the calls,” said Margarita Rocha, director of Centro La Familia, one of the partner organizations.

Arias said there will be multiple rounds to work out the kinks. As of today, there is not a website available to apply.

It is also not known if the grantees’ names will be made public. At the very least, the city will release the number of grants awarded.

Income Guidelines

Before applying, residents are encouraged to check on their grant eligibility at this link or view the graphic below.

How to Apply for Grant

A copy of the application can be found here:

It can be turned in to one of the organizations below. Or, residents should call one of the following groups (but only one) to apply:

Reading and Beyond (559) 214-0317

The Fresno Center (559) 898-2565

Centro La Familia (559) 237-2961

Education & Leadership Foundation (559) 291-5428

Jakara Movement (559) 549-4088

West Fresno Family Resource Center (559) 621-2967

Arias, Soria, and Luis Chavez sponsored the housing grant program.

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