Fresno County can help you if you're struggling to pay rent due to the pandemic

'This program is specifically designed to wipe out back rent.'
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- As financial woes top the list of pandemic impacts across the Valley, Fresno County is working to make sure renters and landlords can keep a roof over their heads.

"There are a lot of people that have had rental issues, losses of income due to COVID that have not been able to pay their full rent. We're really hoping people can take advantage of it," says Laura Moreno with the department of social services.

A combined $27 million of state and federal funds program manager with the Department of Social Services was awarded to Fresno County as a way to assist with back rent starting April 1st 2020 through March 31st 2021.

"Because of the eviction moratorium, thankfully, they were not evicted but they owe a lot of back rent so this program is specifically designed to wipe out that back rent," says Moreno.

While county data shows an unemployment rate of 9.9%, only 800 applications for the emergency rental assistance program were received.

Moreno says it's likely because people don't know they're eligible.

"If people reside within the boundaries of the county of Fresno, whether you are in an incorporated city or not, if you are in a county within Fresno you are potentially eligible," Moreno says.

Data from the first four weeks of the program shows half of the applications received are from the Clovis area.

Kingsburg, Selma, and Sanger each account for between 6% and 7% of the applications.

RELATED: Website ranks Valley rental market as most competitive in the U.S.

Landlords can file applications as well as long as they agree to the terms of the program.

"We are paying them 80% of the back due rent in agreement for them clearing all of the tenants' back due rent," says Katie Wilbur, the executive director of RH Community Builders.

So far the average claim is $7,000, with almost 300 applications being completed since the program's inception - April 5th.

The county is now working on outreach in rural communities to make sure.

"If you're not internet or tech-savvy and you are having trouble with the application or having trouble getting the documents needed, we're able to come out and assist you, walk you through that process," says Wilbur.

If you need help with your rental issues, you can apply here or call (559) 515-4700.
Copyright © 2022 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.