Supervisors approve $5M for rental, mortgage assistance program to help residents avoid eviction, foreclosure


BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Kern County residents will soon be able to receive rental and mortgage assistance to avoid evictions and foreclosures amid COVID-19.

During a budget hearing on Tuesday morning, the Kern County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved allocating $5 million in coronavirus relief funding for an assistance program, which is expected to provide up to $5,000 per family. 

“I think it’s a great initial start,” said Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop.

The county said families with income at or below 80 percent of the area median income would qualify for the program. The money will be provided only if there is proof that it will avoid an eviction or foreclosure. 

The approval comes as the state is set to end its moratorium on evictions on Sept. 1. Many individuals and families who have been financially impacted by COVID-19 are concerned about being removed from their homes for not being able to make their payments.

The city of Bakersfield recently committed $5 million for an assistance program. Chief Operations Officer Jim Zervis said the funding approved by the Board of Supervisors will be pooled with the city’s funding to essentially create one program that operates under the same guidelines. 

The program is expected to be administered by the Housing Authority of the County of Kern. According to the county, the city’s funding will only be used for residents living within the city limits while the county funding will be for those who live outside of the city limits as well as for residents living in other cities in the county. 

Now that the Board of Supervisors has approved the funding, the county said it will bring back an agreement with the Housing Authority to the board for final approval. 

Stephen Pelz, executive director for the Housing Authority, said payments from the program would go directly to the landlords or mortgage company to “make sure this would stop any potential eviction or foreclosure the landlord may have started.”

Pelz said the funding could be used for back payments and would provide support through December. 

Zervis said the county’s 211 system will be the referral point for the program, which is expected to be ready to go by mid-September. 

“We want to get this up and running as soon as possible,” he said. “We encourage the public to be patient as we work through this.”

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