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San Mateo County Board of Supervisors increases funding for emergency rental assistance program

Members of the 2023 Board of Supervisors, from left: Warren Slocum; Noelia Corzo; Dave Pine; David J. Canepa; Ray Mueller.

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday reallocated over $2.5 million to shore up emergency financial assistance programs for people in need, and also called for reexamination of a county policy that restricts rental assistance to those who have lived in the county for at least 90-days.

Multiple supervisors said that the policy should be relaxed in the face of more demand.

"The need has increased for emergency financial assistance," said Claire Cunningham, the county's Human Services Agency director, during her request to the board.

Cunningham asked the board to approve adding just over $1 million from Measure K, the county's half-cent sales tax increase approved in 2016, into the programs, which are administered through a group of eight nonprofit service providers referred to as the county's "core providers."

Another $1.5 million specifically for rental assistance was directed to the emergency program through an appropriations transfer request from Supervisor Noelia Corzo. The funding, also from Measure K, was allocated to the county administrator's office. The rental assistance program is administered through the nonprofit organization Samaritan House for those who qualify.

But one of those qualifications, which requires 90 days of residency in the county to be eligible for rental assistance, was called into question by board members.

"Maybe that's something the board should really kind of look at. I'd like to study it a little more," Supervisor David Canepa said.

He said he had been receiving increased calls in the last month about constituents struggling to secure housing.

Those who haven't lived in the county for 90 days can request a bed in a congregate shelter. But, while there are beds regularly available on the county's bayside, shelters on the county's coast side have a waitlist, according to County Executive Mike Callagy.

Corzo said she agreed that the policy should be re-examined and said she would discuss it at the next community action agency meeting, which connects the public with the county's Human Services Agency. The next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 28, but the location has not been set.

Both expenditures were approved unanimously.

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