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The county this month launched its Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program, opening the month-long application window for renter households who have struggled to pay rent and utility bills because of the ongoing pandemic.

“Orange County renters have had to bear an incredible burden throughout this pandemic. Our rental assistance will help keep our most vulnerable community members from losing their home and a sense of security in the midst of this ongoing crisis,” Orange County Board Supervisor and Chairperson Andrew Do said in a press release.

According to the county, the cities of Anaheim, Santa Ana, and Irvine received direct allocations from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, as they have populations that exceed 200,000 residents. Residents of each of those three cities, the county said, will be served by local city programs.

Photo: Courtesy of Karolina Grabowska/Pexels

“The County has been allocated approximately $65.5 million from the U.S. Department of the Treasury and—working through a group of regional providers—will deliver timely financial assistance to rental households at greatest risk of becoming homeless due to COVID-19-related financial hardships,” Board Supervisor and Vice Chairperson Doug Chaffee said in the release.

Renters must meet certain eligibility criteria to qualify, such as being able to demonstrate that their housing stability is at risk because of unpaid rent and utility bills. A household’s combined income must also be at or below 80% area median income (AMI).

The ERA program doesn’t apply to homeowners and past due mortgage payments, utilities, or energy costs and is solely to be used for renters, the county explained. More information on the AMI and how to apply can be found here.

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