The city of Fresno is now taking applications to distribute $31 million in federal and state aid to residents who need help with rent or utilities.
“We know that our community is hurting. It’s been a very, very tough year. As many of you know, 2020 can be categorized as the year from hell for the city of Fresno,” Councilman Luis Chavez said. “These resources are going to really help our community get back on its feet, but more importantly, maintain the dignity of our residents in order for them to have a roof over their head.”
Chavez anticipates up to 15,000 families can be helped with the new round of funding, part of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
Distribution Formula “Complicated” Says Mayor
Funds will be prioritized for those who have missed rental payments since April 2020 and meet certain income requirements. Help for utilities would be the next priority.
“It is very, very complicated,” Mayor Jerry Dyer admitted at a news conference on Monday.
The city has dedicated 10 staffers to work on application intake. The city will also partner with six non-profits.
More information on eligibility and how to apply can be found here.
To qualify, a family of four would have a maximum income limit between $34,950 (50% of the area median average) or $55,900 (80% of AMI). The lower median will be given priority.
Landlords have the option to receive 80% of back due rent and would have to forgive the remaining 20% and promise not to evict tenants for non-payment. If they do not agree to those terms, then renters would receive 25% of the amount past due to pay landlords.
The program applies only to renters. Homeowners having trouble with mortgage payments do not qualify. Citizenship status is not a criteria used to determine aid.
City Needs to Disburse Money Soon
The federal dollars have to be spent by Sept. 30. A portion of the state funds must be allocated by June 1.
If there is money left after the city provides help for rental assistance, utility payment help will follow.
The city would provide assistance up to 100% for all types of utilities including gas, water and internet.
Dyer said residents owe the city $6 million for trash, water and sewer service. During normal times, that past-due amount would be about $1.5 million. Also, PG&E is owed $48 million from Fresno residents.
Dyer expects demands for housing to continue.
“The demand for housing in Fresno, especially workforce housing and affordable housing, is on the rise. And we have a tremendous demand from people from out of Fresno to want to relocate here. So those numbers are going to continue to rise as we go forward,” Dyer said.