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Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer said Thursday that his goal is to quickly get the next round of emergency rental assistance grants to struggling residents.

Dyer’s commitment to speedy dispersal of the grants followed Wednesday’s announcement that the city had received $15.8 million in federal funding for the program.

“The money will help thousands of residents who are struggling to pay their rent and utility bills due to the pandemic,” Dyer said in a news release. “Our commitment to the community is to get these much-needed grants as soon as we can — to help our residents stay in their homes.”

However, federal grants are accompanied by strict eligibility requirements.

Thus city officials are reviewing the regulations before issuing the grants. In addition, the Dyer administration is seeking input from the Fresno City Council before proceeding.

Last July, the city started a housing grant program because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The grants at that time were $1,500 for an individual or $3,000 per family. The federal CARES Act supplied the funds.

Californians Owe $1 Billion on Their Water Bills

On Tuesday, The Fresno Bee reported that Californians owe an estimated $1 billion in unpaid water utility bills because of the recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The State Water Board estimates at least 1.6 million households have an average of roughly $500 in water debt — a crisis that could lead to a wave of families facing water shutoffs, liens on their homes or other collection methods,” The Bee reported.

Biden Goes Big With Aid for COVID-19 Impacted Families

President Joe Biden, on Wednesday, signed an executive order covering renters behind on their bills due to unemployment or reduced wages during the pandemic.

The order asks the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to extend the federal eviction moratorium, which is set to expire on Jan. 31, through at least March 31.

In addition, the executive order asks federal housing agencies to extend the foreclosure and eviction moratorium for federally backed mortgages at least through March.

Nearly one in five households were behind on their rent in December 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Biden’s “American Rescue Plan” provides $25 billion in rental and utility assistant for low- and moderate-income households, Forbes reported on Wednesday.

The plan would designate $5 billion for helping families with overdue utility bills and $5 billion in emergency aid for people facing homelessness.

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