September 19, 2020 marks six months since California issued a stay-at-home order to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Palm Springs Desert Sun
A $33 million fund to provide rental assistance to Riverside County residents who’ve lost income due to the coronavirus pandemic is having a series of in-person application events in the desert through the fall.
The United Lift rental assistance fund provides $3,500 to eligible applicants who have lost income or been burdened by COVID-19 related expenses. Funds will be distributed through November.
Until mid-September, the applications could only be submitted online through unitedlift.org or by calling for assistance. The pop-up application events will be held twice a week throughout the desert. Eligible applicants can get conditionally approved on-site.
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Araceli Palafox, the deputy director of Lift to Rise that is jointly administered the program with Inland Southern California United Way, said people may be able to get approved on the spot.
The program is open to include anyone who has lost money due to COVID-19-related circumstances, whether or not they’re behind on their rent.
Those who plan to apply must bring:
- A form of identification such as a driver’s license identification card
- A copy of their lease agreement
- Proof of how COVID-19 impacted their finances, such as a loss or reduction in income, unemployment, an increase in childcare costs, or COVID-19 related medical and self-quarantine costs.
- Landlord or property manager’s contact information (phone number and email address)
Palafox said that the documentation of COVID-19-related income last is a crucial part of the application that can be met in many ways. For example, someone who worked a festival-related job in 2019 that did not get any proof of employment this year due to the cancellation of seasonal events could bring their W-2 from last year.
Someone who is spending more money on childcare because they’re working while their kids are home from school can show the withdraws from their bank statements to show the pattern of a financial impact.
Those who are receiving unemployment benefits can bring that documentation, Palafox said.
Most commonly, they’re seeing people whose hours have been reduced and can document the loss with past paychecks.
“We understand that COVID-19 impact can vary,” Palafox said.
The first application pop-up was held in Indio on Thursday and drew about 50 people, aroudn 35 of which whose applications were approved. They waited in physically distant chairs and filled out the applications with the assistance of a staff member or volunteer at spaced-out tables.
One family drove from Hemet, while a property owner came from Blythe.
The program is largely funded with money that the Riverside County Board of Supervisors allocated from the CARES Act. It aims to provide assistance to 10,000 residents throughout the county.
Heather Vaikona, president and CEO fo Lift to Rise, said assistance so far has been distributed to about 1,500 households, with the goal of helping around 3,500 in the region through November and 10,000 households in the county overall.
She said one challenge in getting the funds distributed is that there are people who consider that others may be more in need.
“We know that two out of three renters are economically vulnerable anyway,” she said. “If renters are made whole, that money makes all of us stronger, because it goes back into our local economy.”
The goal of the pop-up events is to make the process easy and quick for people to apply, Vaikona said, especially given that people may have delicate relationships with landlords.
“We’re trying to remove as many obstacles as possible,” she said.
Applications can also be made online at www.unitedlift.org.
Here’s the full schedule of upcoming events through September and October:
- Wednesday, September 23, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Arroyo de Paz I & II: 66765 Two Bunch Palms Trail, Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240
- Saturday, September 26, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Brisas de Paz: 65921 Flora Avenue, Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240
- Wednesday, September 30, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Reyes Market: 98960 70th Avenue, Mecca CA 92254
- Saturday, October 3, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Reyes Market: 98960 70th Avenue, Mecca CA 92254
- Wednesday, October 7, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Agua Caliente Elementary School: 30800 San Luis Rey Drive, Cathedral City, CA 92234
- Saturday, October 10, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Agua Caliente Elementary School: 30800 San Luis Rey Drive, Cathedral City, CA 92234
- Wednesday, October 14, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Coachella Branch Library: 1500 6th Street Coachella, CA 92236
- Saturday, October 17, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Coachella Branch Library: 1500 6th Street Coachella, CA 92236
- Wednesday, October 21, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Washington Street Apartments: 2800 Washington Street, La Quinta, CA 92253
- Saturday, October 24, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Wolff Waters Place CVHC: 47795 Dune Palms Road, La Quinta, CA 92253
- Wednesday, October 28, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Galilee Center, 66101 Hammond Rd, Mecca, CA 92254
- Saturday, October 31, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Galilee Center: 66101 Hammond Rd, Mecca, CA 92254
Events are also slated to occur in Desert Hot Springs, Blythe, Palm Springs, and Palm Desert in November, with locations to be determined.
Melissa Daniels covers economic development, hospitality and local business in the Coachella Valley. She can be reached at (760)-567-8458, [email protected], or on Twitter @melissamdaniels.
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