The majority of Black, Latinx, immigrant, and women-led households in Contra Costa County are renters, and were already rent-burdened before the COVID recession. These are the very people that SHELTER, Inc. has a long history of helping, and this most recent financial crisis has increased the number of families seeking our assistance.
At the onset of the shelter-in-place orders, our donors stepped up to help our neighbors who were valiantly facing the hardest times this generation has known. Philanthropy met the needs of our community much more quickly than the wheels of government turned. In just six short weeks, we awarded nearly $500,000 to keep 548 people safely housed.
Contra Costa County, and the cities of Concord, Walnut Creek, Pittsburg, and Antioch, award emergency rental assistance to SHELTER, Inc. to reach the lowest-income census tracts in these service areas. We worked tirelessly with leadership from each of these municipalities to determine criteria that met each authority’s desired outcomes – mostly focusing on families with minor children, those with disabilities, and seniors. With more than 7,000 applications in three months, this program was constantly evolving until the state of California could launch a program.
Now, the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act program that helps both renters and landlords is taking precedent. SHELTER, Inc. is doing outreach and registration assistance to help those in Contra Costa County apply for this assistance. It is estimated that there are more than 11,000 households in Contra Costa who are behind in rent, totaling more than $58.8 million in rental debt. Yet, officials tell us that only about 25% of the renters in the county who qualify have applied to date.
Please, if you know someone who needs assistance remaining housed, encourage them to apply at: https://housing.ca.gov/covid_rr/index.html. For now, they can call for assistance at: 833-430-2122.
Within the next couple of weeks, the state will make a calendaring software available by which renters can set up an appointment for help directly with a SHELTER, Inc. program specialist.