Alameda County supervisors wrapped up business prior to their month-long August recess with a number of items intended to help residents cope with the coronavirus, including a pilot program to offer a stipend to those recuperating from the virus, and a limited renters assistance program. A tiny home program in unincorporated Alameda County for unsheltered individuals at-risk for contracting covid-19 was also approved on Tuesday afternoon.
The pilot relief program will provide $1,250 checks to those without paid leave or other income subsidies, and who are quarantined because of exposure to covid-19. Its intention is to incentivize sick residents to stay home in five Alameda County zip codes hit hardest by the spread of covid-19, including West Oakland, East Oakland, and the unincorporated areas.
“This is specifically designed for covid-19 patients to quarantine. We want them to isolate. We don’t want our residents to worry about where their next dollar will come from,” said Lori Cox, director of the Alameda County Social Services Agency.
Up to 7,500 one-time stipends will be available, Cox said. The amount of county funding allocated to the pilot program is $10 million.
More work on finalizing the details of the program remains, including the method of payment, before the stipends can be released, Cox told the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. The Social Services Agency is looking into using debit cards to distribute stipends.
A week after Supervisor Nate Miley called for a comprehensive renters relief program for county residents, staff offered a small-scale version on Tuesday that cobbled together various federal housing fund sources to provide $1.68 million for struggling tenants and landlords in Alameda County cities that do not yet provide rental assistance during the pandemic.
The funding will be split among Albany, Dublin, Emeryville, Newark, Piedmont, and unincorporated Alameda County. Berkeley, Oakland, Hayward, San Leandro, Livermore, and Pleasanton already offer some type of coronavirus-related rental assistance, typically using federal CARES Act funding and other federal housing dollars.
“I think this is fine, just as a start,” Miley said. “We really need a comprehensive rental relief program in place. This, I don’t think is solid. If we get to a place where we’ve got more households who need support, how would we accommodate that?
“Either we pay now and have a robust program or later when people are out on the streets and hurting,” Miley said. “We need to move on this now so we can augment this when this runs out.”
Last week, Miley, along with Superivsor Scott Haggerty abstained on an extension of a countywide moratorium on evictions that was finalized on Tuesday, arguing the ordinance did not do enough to help struggling landlords.
The unsheltered of unincorporated Alameda County and mid-county stand to benefit from 34 tiny homes slated to be built at the parking lot of the former Fairmont Hospital. The project, which will focus, in part, on older unsheltered residents at high-risk for severe illness due to covid-19, also includes respite services, and will cost $6.4 million.
The amount includes $2.5 million previously allocated for a navigation center at the same location. County officials said the tiny homes should be completed sometime in early 2021. However, an existing trailer already at the location will be available in mid-December and include six units, along with a laundry room and office space.
An area for unsheltered individuals living in their cars to safely park overnight is currently located at the Fairmont parking lot.