Sacramento City Councilmember Katie Valenzuela expresses heartfelt concern over possible evections

Sacramento City Councilmember Katie Valenzuela. | 

During the afternoon session of the Tuesday, March 14 Sacramento City Council meeting, Councilmember Katie Valenzuela expressed concern about possible evictions in the city. Valenzuela made the remarks after a report on the city of Sacramento's efforts to assist vulnerable renters.

The report presented to the Sacramento City Council during their housing authority session on the Sacramento Emergency Rental Assistance (SERA) noted that about $3.2 million in 2020 was provided to 930 households. Funding for SERA, managed by the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency (SHRA), came from federal Corona Relief Funds and Community Block Development Grants.

Rental assistance continued in March 2021 when President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act that provided additional funding. Total rental assistance funding from both programs was $57 million, but only $48,000 remains.

"Most of the funds that we have received have been dispersed to families in need," SHRA SERA program director MaryLiz Paulson said during her report. "Almost 6,000 households have received an average of about $10,000 to assist with rent and utility arrears."

SERA received 20,000 applications, with 7,700 families not qualified for assistance and 7,800 funded. However, the 4,500 pending applications are what caught Ms. Vlaenzuela's attention. 

"Because we have more applications than funds that we have available for disbursement," Paulson said. "We have notified all the pending applicants that we do not have funds available for disbursement."

Paulson said additional funding could become available in June, but it was uncertain. 

First to speak after hearing the report, Valenzuela said the information was encouraging but fraught with danger. Noting the average Sacramento household has 2.76 people, Valenzuela said the 4,500 applications represent about 12,555 residents. 

While congratulating the program's success, Valenzuela said the 12,555 residents who could be affected by the possible end of funding caused anxiety. 

"This will double our numbers [of homeless] people on the street," she said. 

Valenzuela added, "we are on the precipice of this emergency, just getting beyond the epic levels we've seen on our streets." 
See Valenzuela's entire commentary in the video. 

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