Santa Cruz County tenants and the homeless can get help. Homeless prevention is provided locally to the low income and needy. The Housing and Urban Development Agency, United Way of Santa Cruz, charities such as the Homeless Services Center, and other groups all coordinate these eviction prevention programs in the community. The services are offered as part of the Continuum of Care as well as the Homeless Coalition of the city of Santa Cruz.
The assistance available is extensive. There may be cash grants, vouchers, loans, and other forms of financial aid. The money can be used to stop evictions by paying for rental or utility bill arrears. The grants may also pay for other expenses such as security deposits, moving expenses, legal costs involved in suing a landlord, and many other expenses.
Additional assistance to stop homelessness is non-financial. This is where more case management as well as legal support comes into play. The Continuum of Care includes both full time staff as well as volunteers that work with struggling families or individuals in Santa Cruz County.
They will help them accomplish goals and provide support. This may include, but is not limited too, legal consultations to fight an eviction notice, help in rebuilding credit scores so they can lease an apartment again, find employment, and apply for government benefits such as section 8 housing. Other aid is part of case management too.
Many clients can also get assistance from service centers. There are locations in Santa Cruz as well as the city of Watsonville. Anyone that is living in poverty, and either homelessness or close to it, can stop in for support. The case management here includes basic needs too. Charities such as the Homeless Services Center provide free hot meals, laundry, use of a computer, transportation to a job, and more.
Santa Cruz County renters with a pay or quit, or eviction notice, from their landlord may be able to get help to deal with the crisis. This program, known as Emergency Solution Grants, is available as a result of HUD funding that is allowed under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. This form of grant based help may not only assist with rental arrears, but if the eviction is due to utility bill needs, then that can be paid too. ESG can cover water, electric, or heating costs.
Applicant to ESG need to meet the income guidelines in place. Once this has been done, charities in the county that over see the funds, such as partners of the United Way, may authorize funds to be paid out. Any assistance is one time only, for emergencies, and is combined with case management for the tenant. There can be some exceptions made though, as grants can cover security deposits or legal costs, and these are not emergency expenses.
Santa Cruz Homeless Persons Health Project (HPHP), combined medical care and social services (along with housing assistance) to the homeless. Applicants need to be disabled or have a mental health need. There are many parts to it, including Alcohol & Drug Use Outreach, Free Medical Care and Treatment, ESG grants for rent or security deposits, and information on accessing benefits.
Veterans (and their families) have two eviction prevention programs available to them. They include HUD Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing as well as SSVF. The form of assistance available is mostly offered using vouchers. This will help the veteran keep up with their rent and energy costs will they seek long term stability. HUD VASH also helps veterans apply for other federal government programs which may also include homeless prevention services. These are benefits that veterans are entitled too.
Residents that have been evicted can be placed into shelters or, when full, provided with free motel vouchers. There are various charities that take part in these programs. As examples, in the Pajaro Valley there is the Defensa de Mujeras as well as the CAB Motel Voucher Program. Other non-profits in Santa Cruz County include Paul Lee Loft Shelter and about 10 others.
All of these programs are focused on stopping evictions and reducing the overall homeless levels in the county. The Continuum of Care (CoC) is but one option in the area. A leading organization for both advice and short term needs is the Homeless Services Center, but there are many others. For more referrals, dial 800-273-6222.
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