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Concord disperses more funds to fend off evictions, provide legal aid

Concord

Concord disperses more funds to fend off evictions, provide legal aid

Concord, California – The Concord City Council unanimously approved a multi-prong strategy on Dec. 1 to use more than $900,000 in federal funds to assist residents deemed at highest risk of eviction due to financial hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city received an additional $935,572 in Community Development Block Grant-Coronavirus (CDBG-CV3) funds in the third and final round of funding under the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020. Concord’s allocation was more than $2.2 million in the initial two rounds of federal funding.

Guidance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) states that these new funds must prioritize households struggling to meet rental obligations.

“The city, the county and the state at large are facing an unprecedented eviction and housing crisis, exacerbated and amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Brenda Kain, Concord’s housing manager. “Concord has allocated funds for tenant counseling and legal services to mitigate the effect on low-income tenants.

Keeping people housed

“These services will be provided to Concord tenants regardless of immigration status. They are critical to keeping people housed and to combatting the ongoing health risks of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she added.

The city’s partner agencies helped develop the recommendations the council adopted. Groups included Monument Impact, Shelter, Inc., Raise the Roof, East Bay Housing Organizations and Centro Legal de la Raza.

The council earmarked the largest chunk, $540,572, for emergency rental assistance. This means $230,000 going to Monument Impact and $310,572 to Shelter, Inc.

Monument Impact is a grassroots agency with strong ties to the largely immigrant community in the Monument area of Concord as well as parts of East County, regardless of immigration status.

Shelter, Inc. has an extensive history working with the city, and it was also tagged for round one funding.

Another $220,000 will bolster the efforts of Centro Legal de la Raza. This non-profit provides legal services to low-income tenants. ECHO Housing, the city’s current fair housing and tenant/landlord services provider, will get $25,000 for counseling services, administration and outreach to serve additional tenants impacted by COVID-19.

The remaining $150,000 will cover administrative costs over two years.

Accountability

In supporting city staff’s recommendation for allocating the CDBG money, Councilman Dominic Aliano raised the issue of accountability that these latest funds will go for their intended purpose. Kain described the reporting and monitoring requirements as “pretty extensive.” She added that quarterly reports reviewed by city staff include not only the number of clients being served but also what kinds of services are provided and any issues that agencies encounter.

Council members lauded the increased commitment to legal services, which all voiced must continue to be part of the fiscal equation.

“This is our city, our constituents and our people,” Councilman Edi Birsan said of addressing the ongoing hardships facing renters. “The responsibility starts with us.”

Who to contact for assistance

For additional information about available tenant services, contact:

  • Tenant counseling/legal services, ECHO Housing. 925-732-3919 or contact@echofairhousing.org.
  • Tenant rental assistance, Monument Impact. 925-682-8248 or info@monumentimpact.org.
  • Shelter, Inc. 925-338-1038 or shelterinc.org/renthelp.
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