CAP Pushes for Housing and Rental Help
By Dianne Anderson
Much of the last year saw the Orange County Community Action Partnership scrambling to get back-to-back food distributions out to many thousands that lost their jobs.
Things are finally starting to settle down a bit, but no one at the agency is getting comfortable with the current situation, especially as the end to the ban on evictions in California lurks right around the corner.
Gregory Scott, president and CEO of the organization, expects the next economic impact is bumping up against the crisis of housing and rentals, but also mom and pop landlords will take the hit.
The middle-class community is not exempt.
Momentarily, California renters are still in the safe zone under the three-month extension on the moratorium (AB 832,) that protects renters from being evicted. It was signed by Gavin Newsom in June, and sunsets on September 30, 2021.
“We’re continuing to look our business model, make sure we have the right business model to continue to handle what we think is going to continue post-COVID,” Scott said. “We’re just trying to make sure we have the right business systems in place to be able to handle it long term.”
Housing in Orange County has always been unaffordable, even for the middle class and even during the best of times.
Today, Scott said there are serious concerns about being able to provide rental assistance dollars, and he is hoping the [Biden] Administration will release more dollars.
“If not you’ll have more people in trouble and potentially more people that are homeless,” he said.
Last week, reportedly the Treasury Department said that only 11% of the $46 billion has trickled down from states and localities to renters that need it most. The U.S. Supreme Court also ruled that President Biden cannot extend the CDC ban on evictions that were imposed because of the COVID crisis. To keep the moratorium, Congress must now garner enough votes to do so, something that they have not been able to accomplish so far.
Nationwide, over eight million renters are behind on their rent.
In a recent statement, Diane Yentel, President and CEO of National Low Income Housing Coalition reacted to the Supreme Court’s ruling to lift the federal eviction moratorium ast week.
She said the ruling will be responsible for millions of people losing their homes this fall and winter.
“Evictions risk lives and drive families deeper into poverty. During a pandemic, evictions further burden overstretched hospital systems, and make it much more difficult for the country to contain the virus. Evictions have been shown to increase spread of, and potentially deaths from, COVID-19. For families and individuals, evictions are profoundly traumatizing and destabilizing. For the country, evictions are expensive. The tragic consequences of this decision will reverberate for years,” she said.
Since the pandemic started, some cities have implemented their own eviction ban guidelines.
Locally, Scott said that their agency is working with the city of Santa Ana to see if there are more dollars available for rental assistance.
“We’re also working with our Congresspeople, and local government to see if we can do more advocacy in pushing that [moratorium] date back. All of that is still in progress,” he said.
OC CAP is part of a national network of about 1,000 CAP agencies nationwide, which developed from programming that came out of the war and poverty during the civil rights movement. The organization has a large foodbank, and offers energy and utility assistance, among many numerous other low income resources.
Scott noted that other top goals under a recent initiative focused on racial equity, starting focused diversity and inclusion training from within OC CAP. They are looking at interactions with their clients, the low income working class, and how they are impacted by racial equity issues within the organization.
Within their nonprofit, he said their racial equity group is taking leadership, and holding several trainings around racism in Orange County.
“We hired trainers to come in and do training around microaggressions and all those terms internally,” he said. “Then it will play out [around] how do we serve the community in terms of our programming.”
For now, like the rest of the nation, the spotlight and the agency’s biggest call to action is the push to get the community vaccinated. They are working with local county’s Black churches and other nonprofit organizations to address vaccine hesitancy.
“When we look at our numbers, we see [the percentage] of Blacks in Orange County who are are vaccinated are the lowest amount of any other particular group,” he said.
He said the agency is outreaching, and calling on nonprofits to participate, particularly within the Black community.
“We’re also reaching out to the Divine 9 Black fraternities and sororities in Orange County. We want to have a centerpoint to outreach,” he said. “We have mobile stations where they can come to get vaccinated, but we know it’s a major problem in OC,” he said.
For Covid Rent Relief, see the State of California Housing website states that Qualifying renters and landlords are now eligible for 100% of rent and utilities owed, https://housing.ca.gov/covid_rr/program_overview.html#details
To find out more about Orange County Community Action Partnership, see https://www.capoc.org/empowering-communities/