Contra Costa County celebrates streamlined COVID-19 Rent Relief program

SHELTER, Inc. has proudly served as part of the California COVID-19 Rent Relief program, which has provided monetary assistance to at-risk families and individuals during the pandemic. Several aspects of that program have been streamlined of late thanks to a close partnership with Contra Costa County, and that process was celebrated at a news conference Thursday in Antioch.

“Contra Costa County has been an outstanding partner from the very beginning,” said Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency Secretary Castro Ramirez, “and has moved aggressively to bring on local community-based organizations to assist residents in applying for rent relief.”

Renters and landlords in Contra Costa County have applied for nearly $50 million in assistance to date, and that process has been simplified. The application, which once took three to four hours, can now be completed in less than one hour, and applicants now only need to upload three or four documents, down from as many as nine.

Those at Thursday’s events credited partnerships with local non-profit organizations such as SHELTER, Inc. for being able to provide timely feedback on policies and procedures. That feedback, plus new guidance from the U.S. Treasury, have allowed those within the system to provide a more optimal user experience.

SHELTER, Inc. has marketed the program through billboards in the county, as well as by way of weekly emails and social media posts. Those in the community can visit SHELTERinc.org/COVID to access a survey or schedule appointments with specialists to see which programs could provide rental assistance.

“As things have continued to change, we’ve adapted,” SHELTER, Inc. Program Director Andrea Foti said, highlighting the flexibility of all parties involved in the process. “We are still learning, even as we speak.”

More information about the California COVID-19 Rent Relief program is available at HousingIsKey.com. The website has recently been made far more accessible, with translations available in Spanish, simplified Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Tagalog.

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