PALM DESERT – While rent relief has been slow to be disbursed nationwide, Riverside County’s rental assistance program is performing exceptionally well and is among the most successful programs in the State of California in distributing rental assistance.
According to a recent article in CNBC (link), over $46 billion in rent relief has been allocated by the federal government and only $3 billion, less than seven percent, of that aid has been paid out.
Supervisor V. Manuel Perez is touting Riverside County’s rental assistance program, United Lift, as a success story and a model for rapidly distributing this crucial assistance. United Lift distributed the first round of federally funded rental assistance at the fastest rate per capita of any program in the state.
United Lift continues its fast-paced efforts and has now distributed 74 percent of the $92 million allocated toward the program so far. Once that is spent, Riverside County will deploy additional funding that is expected to assist COVID-impacted renters through the end of 2021.
Having a program of this scale run effectively and efficiently is important to Supervisor Perez and positive news for Riverside County, as it alleviates stress faced by renters, prevents evictions and homelessness, and helps economic recovery by allowing renters to catch up and providing rental property owners with income they depend on.
United Lift was one of the first efforts the county launched using federal COVID-19 funding. The county housing division set up a model to have two nonprofit partners, Lift to Rise and Inland SoCal United Way, administer the program, which allowed staffing to quickly ramp up in early preparation to meet the demand of the housing crisis and get this aid out.
For the eastern Riverside County region – spanning the Pass Area, the entire Coachella Valley and Blythe and the Palo Verde Valley – the county program is administered by Lift to Rise, a nonprofit organization based in Palm Desert.
To administer the volume of applications, Lift to Rise built a team of over 30 people, about half of whom are recent graduates who were raised in the Coachella Valley and moved back home after college.
Supervisor Perez praises the well-organized program, active outreach and dedication by staff at Lift to Rise. He notes this program has created opportunities for recent graduates to work in public service, helping our neighbors who have been financially impacted during the pandemic.
“What Lift to Rise is doing is impressive, amazing and just,” said Supervisor Perez. “Most of the Lift to Rise team members are from the area, from Cathedral City, Indio, Coachella, Thermal, Oasis, Desert Hot Springs. They have been really involved in reaching residents and have been very effective in distributing this aid, so families have the assistance they need as quickly as possible. Rental assistance has been a huge need in Riverside County, and I am proud we have a program that is working very well as we anticipate this need will continue.”
Since launching in June 2020, United Lift has assisted at least 10,000 households across Riverside County, with an average application processing time of 30 days. Nearly 600 applications are received per week. Each household has received an average of $9,207.
Heather Vaikona, President and CEO of Lift to Rise, states: “Our progress with rental assistance this past year shows what’s possible when folks choose to work together toward a common goal. We’re incredibly proud of our dynamic team, community residents and partner organizations who are all together making a united lift to keep our neighbors housed.”
Renters who have been affected by a COVID-19-related job loss or injury can apply for rental assistance by visiting UnitedLift.org.
Eligible residents can receive assistance regardless of immigration status, and they do not need to be behind on rent to apply. Under current federal guidelines implemented in March 2021, people can receive three months of future rent payments plus up to a year of back rent.
Captions – Photo 1: Supervisor Perez and top county officials visited the Lift to Rise Staff Appreciation Event in May 2021 to see the work being done by Lift to Rise staff. Photo 2: The United Lift Rental Assistance program launched in June 2020 and has assisted more than 10,000 households affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in Riverside County, Photo Credit Noé Montes, Lift to Rise. Photo 3: Lift to Rise staff prepare for a United Lift application pop-up event at the James O. Jessie Desert Highland Unity Center in Palm Springs in April 2021, Photo Credit Noé Montes, Lift to Rise.
Supervisor V. Manuel Perez represents the eastern two-thirds of Riverside County on the Riverside County Board of Supervisors. Stretching from Palm Springs and Desert Hot Springs, south to the Salton Sea and east to Blythe and the Colorado River, the 4th District is the largest geographical district in the county.
Supervisor Perez’s office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.