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Orange County votes to approve another rent assistance program. But is it enough?

Photo: Pixabay
Photo: Pixabay

Orange County commissioners have approved a nearly $16 million dollar rental assistance program for local tenants.

Anyone who is experiencing financial hardship, whether due to COVID or other reasons is eligible to apply for this second round of county-wide emergency rental assistance. 

The program is open to residents who make at or below 80 percent of the area median income, which for a family of four would be around $66,320 a year. 

Although the measure was approved unanimously, Commissioner Emily Bonilla says she wonders if this assistance is really enough for struggling families in a time of rent inflation. 

“These recipients, landlords, of these funds are now raising rents on these tenants. So did we help them or cause more harm?”

Bonilla says many families are still being evicted.

“Because we gave them temporary assistance to get them through a short time, but now they can’t even pay the rent and they’re struggling to pay their new lease. If they stayed and couldn’t find a cheaper place.”

Priority for these funds will be given to people at or below 50 percent of the average median income, who have been unemployed for at least three months and are facing eviction.

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter at WMFE. You can hear her reporting on a daily basis on the station. She also fills-in as a host during the morning and afternoon drive times. Her reporting has been featured on NPR, Marketplace, Here & Now, and Vox. Danielle is originally from Rochester Hills, Michigan and is a graduate of both the University of Michigan and Northwestern University. In her free time, she enjoys playing her guitar, writing fiction, and cooking.