Rent relief program available in Milpitas

Milpitas recently launched a new rent relief program to help low-income residents live and work in the city.

The Workforce Housing Rental Assistance Program aims to provide 50 households with $645 per month for up to two years. Eligible residents can apply online until applications close on May 1.

The intent is to help alleviate concerns residents might have about rent, said Robert Musallam, director of the city’s housing division.

“Even if it doesn’t cover the entire month, or maybe not a large majority, it benefits the household,” he said. “They can use these funds to help support other areas that they otherwise would have had to sacrifice to cover their rent.”

The city allocated $773,341 in permanent local housing allocation dollars for the program and partnered with the FORWARD software platform to deploy it.

To be eligible, applicants must be employed adults earning at least 30% of the Housing and Community Development (HCD) area median income. In Santa Clara County, the median income for a family of four is $181,300, with HUD recognizing the 30% threshold at $53,500, according to the relief program’s website. The median household income in Milpitas is $169,460 and approximately 64% of residents own their own home. The median gross rent is $2,762, according to the city.

An applicant’s household must also include either one adult working and living in Milpitas; an adult living in Milpitas but working outside the city, or an adult living outside the city but working within its limits. The money will go directly to landlords to ensure it is used for rent-related expenses.

Priority will be given to households with at least one adult living and working in the city, according to Musallam. If more than 50 eligible households apply, tenants will be selected by random drawing. The program is a pilot and the city will evaluate whether to continue funding it after two years, Musallam said.

Milpitas currently has another rent relief program where low-income households negatively impacted by COVID-19 can receive up to $5,000. The program has separate eligibility criteria and is funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, a federal funding bill that provides families, businesses and governments with resources to recover from the pandemic.

Similar programs have already been implemented in neighboring cities like San Francisco, which has an emergency rental assistance program that provides financial assistance once a year to residents at high risk of becoming homeless. shelter or lose their housing.

Although municipalities have never received rental assistance, some are adopting rent-friendly measures to keep low-income residents in the area. The San Jose City Council recently approved a new “renter preference” policy to help low-income renters at risk of displacement remain in the area.

Vincent Woo, an activist with the pro-housing group Yes In My Backyard, said he was particularly happy to see Milpitas using the program to help its growing workforce.

“I think any program that tries to bring workers’ homes closer to their workplaces is a good thing,” he said. “I am glad that Milpitas has not instituted strict residency control over its relief program.”

The city’s two largest employers are Cisco Systems, which has more than 3,000 employees, and industrial equipment manufacturing company KLA, which has more than 2,000. Other major employers include Flex, Headway Technologies and the Milpitas Unified School District, according to the city.

“Historically, Milpitas has always been a place where people could sleep at night while they worked in one of the higher employment density areas nearby,” Woo said. “I think it changes as business opportunities open up in Milpitas, but the balance definitely shifts the other way.”

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