Rental assistance programs are helping people in the South Bay access relief funds
SAN JOSE, Calif. - In the South Bay, people unable to pay their rent due to COVID, are getting some help applying for emergency rental assistance programs. The City of San Jose and Santa Clara County are working together to staff a series of help centers.
They're trying to help as many people as possible pay off their rent and utilities in full.
In Santa Clara County alone, officials say there are upwards of 20,000 households behind on rent.
Jeffrey Brackensick's is one of them.
"[My] mind is always racing. So just getting a helping hand and [to] have somebody come out here and help us makes it a lot better for us," Brackensick says.
That helping hand is coming in the form of rental assistance at local help centers.
San Jose and Santa Clara County are working together to help as many tenants and landlords as possible get paid in full.
California's eviction protections end September 30 as do other federal benefits like extended unemployment, so the pressure is on.
"With this push to really get funds out the door as quickly as possible before eviction preventions end, we thought, 'Let's open as many in person locations as possible,'" says Ragan Henninger, Deputy Director of San Jose's Housing Department.
That includes pop up sites, like the one at the Santa Clara County Courthouse.
Others are planned at churches, schools or even apartment complexes.
They're also getting the word out online, and through community ambassadors.
"Really it's word of mouth. We find if one person gets help, they'll let their friend or family member know, ‘Hey, I went and did this and its great.’ And we found that's actually the most effective," says Emily Hislop, Manager of San Jose's Eviction Help Center.
This local program works hand in glove with the state program, where there's $5.2 billion dollars in rent relief money to hand out.
So far, Santa Clara County has had 4,885 applications submitted, totaling $52 million.
The average payment is between $8,000 and $9,000 per household.
Still local officials worried some people who should apply, haven't yet.
"They might be concerned they don't qualify. They may be concerned perhaps that they owe too much. They may not know that we can pay not only backward rent but forward rent," says Henninger.
There will be rental assistance money until at least next June. But authorities say, it's important to start the process this month, while eviction protections are still in place.
"Takes a lot of stress off of me, stress off of my family and just knowing we can wake up and have another day to live you know not worrying about pressure," says Brackensick.
In addition to the help center locations at the Franklin Mckinley School District and at San Jose City Hall, officials hope to have one pop up each week at locations around the county.
For more information on the Santa Clara County program: https://www.preventhomelessness.org/
For more information on the state program: