Coronavirus crisis: Not enough money to meet needs of renters searching for relief in Mountain View

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (KGO) -- Available resources aren't meeting the requests of residents seeking rent relief in Mountain View.

Rental assistance group, Community Services Agency (CSA), confirmed it has already helped 76 families. However, hundreds of others also need support.

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"We have a queue of about 1,200 people waiting for rental assistance from our agency," CSA Executive Director, Tom Myers told ABC7 News. "And that's why it's absolutely vital that we get as much funding in here as we possibly can for this rental relief that we're providing."

Myers explained, what the agency is able to offer is just not enough.

"It's not enough, and we have people who are going to be having a real trouble in paying their rents," he added.

The City of Mountain View has already added $500,000 to the agency's relief efforts. Myers said it can take up to $2,000 to help each qualifying household- meaning, there isn't enough money to go around.

"Kudos to the city of Mountain View for putting in $500,000, but it's not enough and we need to find more money from other parts of the community to be able to take up the slack," he said.

Myers also mentioned the request for rent relief involves an entire qualification process.

"It's not just, 'Ok, come on in and we'll pay your rent,'" he explained. "We're asking them to work with us. Find out if they can provide some of the funding for the rent. What part of the rent can we kick in?"

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He said CSA is currently "engaging" with about 500 families.

"Whether everyone would qualify who is in the queue or not, we don't know. That's all part of the engagement process we're undertaking right now," Myers said.

The City of Mountain View has put up $1.3-million toward COVID-19 relief efforts, according to Mayor Margaret Abe-Koga.

She explained the money is spread across the city's contributions to rent relief, small business relief, utility payment assistance and the establishment of a robust homeless service program.

Part of the relief efforts included providing safe parking lots for those who live in over-sized vehicles. Abe-Koga said there are three open lots, which accommodate about 85 spaces total.

She said the City is also, "Providing hand-washing stations, laundry services, and mobile showers."

Abe-Koga said Mountain View has recently received a $350,000 grant from Google, and are working with the tech giant to establish a small business relief fund as well.

"These will be grants to the businesses to assist with utilities, or internet connections or rents," she explained.

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On Monday, Abe-Koga confirmed she got word another major corporation is donating $100,000, but stopped short of revealing the donor.

Additionally, the mayor introduced #TogetherMV.

"We've created a donation portal for the community," she explained. "We've had a lot of folks in our community who are wanting to help out. So, under the #TogetherMV, there's a portal there where you can donate to either the rent relief fund or the small business fund."

"We've raised about $50,000 between both of those funds," Abe-Koga added. She confirms the funds were raised between 300 donors within the community.

Also, Abe-Koga said Google provided an additional $1-million grant after having to cancelling an annual conference. She said some of that money has gone to non-profit health clinics and CSA.

Recently, Santa Clara County leaders set up an eviction moratorium to protect renters. On Monday, the State did as well.

Myers with CSA pointed out, "There is one area though that the eviction moratorium does not include, and that includes people who are living in RVs."

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He elaborated, if someone is renting an RV, the moratorium doesn't protect them from missed payments.

Former Mountain View mayor, and housing and homeless advocate Lenny Siegel said the moratorium adds some relief, but not enough.

"In the long run, there probably needs to be rent forgiveness- not just a moratorium on evictions," Siegel said. "A lot of people that we're talking to aren't going to be able to come up with the money in five or six months."

He said another major concern is relief of a different kind.

"A big issue is the lack of sanitation services," Siegel said, pointing to the population of people living out of their vehicles.

"The city closed restrooms, the schools closed restrooms, the gyms were closed, the library was closed," he explained. "All these places that people who were living in vehicles were using for sanitation, for bathroom services, for showers, disappeared."

He's urging the City of Mountain View do more to bring these necessary services back online for those who don't have other options.

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