Supervisors Approve HOME Program

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Community and Economic Development Manager Esperanza Colio-Warren discusses the use of remaining CDBG funding for public service programs.
Community and Economic Development Manager Esperanza Colio-Warren presented the board with a new program to assist low income families in unincorporated areas of Imperial County.

EL CENTRO — Subsequent to the Sleepy Hollow RV Park evictions, the Imperial County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously during Tuesday’s board meeting to approve a new HOME program to assist Imperial Valley families in similar situations.

The County recently received approval from the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), through its HOME program to include the Tenant Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) Program. The program allows the county to provide rental assistance and security deposit payments to income eligible households in the unincorporated areas of Imperial County. Preference will be given to households affected by unforeseen acts of nature such as earthquakes, floods, fires and households on the verge of becoming homeless due to eviction.

“This (HOME) is a program based on the Section 8 housing that will be able to assist eligible families with rent assistance for up to two years,” said Esperanza Colio-Warren, Imperial County Community and Economic Development Manager.

Colio said the County was able to set aside approximately $500,000 from the First Time Buyer program to be used towards the HOME program and assist up to fifty families.

To qualify, applicants must meet the current income limits for Imperial County.

“The majority of beneficiaries under the Tenant Based Rental Assistance program must have household income at or below 60 percent of Imperial County’s Area Median Income,” said Colio. “For example a family of four cannot make more than $35,000.”

Imperial County Chief Executive Officer Ralph Cordova Jr. said the HOME program was created as a result of the Sleepy Hallow and Brawley RV Parks evictions that happened in the last few months.

“This program (HOME) is the culmination of all board member suggestions and decisions” said Cordova. “We were unable to assist the people in Sleepy Hollow with this program because it was not in place. However the program is now available to all of the people in Imperial County within the County’s jurisdiction.”

According to Colio the reason the County did not apply for the program earlier was lack of  expertise. Now that the program is implemented, the County plans to reapply next year.

“Sleepy Hollow residents have been calling every day to see if the program has been approved,” said Colio.

District-5 Supervisor Ray Castillo questioned if residents from the Brawley RV Park who were recently evicted would also benefit from this program.

“This program is only available to residents in unincorporated areas of Imperial County,” replied Colio.

District-4 Supervisor Ryan Kelley suggested the board amend the guidelines to include all eligible Imperial County residents not only those in the unincorporated areas.

The board agreed with Ryan and the amended guidelines will be brought back to the board at a later date for approval.