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City Council Reallocates $500,000 Funds Originally Earmarked for Rent Relief to Motel Voucher Program

Published on Tuesday, September 21, 2021 | 5:43 am

The City Council approved the reallocation of a $500,000 Emergency Solutions Grant COVID-19 funds originally proposed to be used for the provision of rental assistance to households at risk of homelessness, to other housing services, including the motel voucher program.

On Monday the council voted unanimously on the recommendation of staff to approve the reallocation of the funds from the city’s homelessness prevention activities to emergency shelter activities during its meeting on Monday.

As result of the reallocation, the funding for emergency shelter, under ESG-CV, which would largely support the provision of motel vouchers, has increased from $1,000,000 to $1,500,000.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development originally recommended a $500,000 funding allocation for homelessness prevention activities in preparation for the lifting of pandemic-related eviction moratoria to ensure residents would not fall into homelessness due to unpaid rent.

But after the State announced last June that there will be a large scale pandemic-related rent relief program for income-qualified tenants, the department recommended realigning these funds to supplement emergency shelter capacity with motel vouchers.

The Council also approved the recommendation to revise previously approved Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) allocations and add funding for Homeless Management Information System and street outreach services.

In a comment, Pasadena resident Ferne Hayes remarked that the realignment of funds is sensible in light of the State rent relief program.

Hayes however urged the City to expand the target of the funds to include funding for interim or bridge housing facilities.

“Emergency shelter and scattered site motel vouchers allow one night only assistance. After they are utilized, they are gone.”

“Nearby cities of Los Angeles, North Hollywood, Tarzana, and Reseda have decided that putting funds toward small housing structures that can be used over and over is more efficient,” Hayes said.

In her public comment, Pasadena resident Sonja Berndt likewise expressed hopes the city will allocate funding for interim housing, where a homeless person can live in until he or she obtains permanent housing.

She also urged the Council to approve proposals for the creation of a shelter village or the repurposing of a local motel for interim housing.

“These alternative interim housing models provide services efficiently and are less costly than motel vouchers because tiny shelters and repurposed motel rooms can be used over and over,” Berndt said.

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