homelessWithout housing subsidies, low-income renters in South County are continually confronted with the difficulty of choosing between the necessities of food, utilities, medicine or rent. South County Outreach has operated a homeless prevention program since 1989, supplying groceries from our food pantry, rent and utility assistance for clients facing eviction and utility shut-off and now offering one-on-one case management, resources and referrals for walk-in clients.

Providing supplemental food not only increases nutritional levels for children and adults, but allows people to redirect their financial resources toward equally pressing obligations. Likewise, assisting with one utility bill or one month’s rent is cost-effective compared to the financial and emotional price of an eviction. Here in Orange County, there are few affordable housing units and the fair market rents are high, which makes re-housing both difficult and expensive. Additionally, losing one’s home has a devastating emotional impact on every family member and may cause added problems such as unemployment, lost school time, malnutrition, or illness.

Our homeless prevention program helps South County individuals, families and seniors with the necessary assistance to retain their housing through a short-term crisis, and it does this at a significantly reduced cost compared to re-housing or supporting a family in a shelter.

These programs are designed to prevent a sudden financial setback from becoming a long-term financial crisis.

Rental and Utility Assistance

1st Step: Leave a voicemail to be placed on the call-back list.

To receive rental assistance, call (949) 380-8144 ext. 209 to be added to our call-back list for a phone interview.  Please note we are only able to assist those living in South Orange County from Irvine to San Clemente. The following documents are needed: photo ID for all adults in the home, identification for all children in the household, a current utility bill at your current address, verification of household income, a copy of a three-day pay-or-quit notice, a complete copy of the rental or lease agreement, a current copy of a bank statement.

Funding is limited and services are offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

To receive utility assistance, call (949) 380-8144 ext. 209 to be added to our call-back list for a phone interview. Please note we are only able to assist those living in South Orange County from Irvine to San Clemente. We will need a photo ID for all adults in the household, identification for all children in the home, utility disconnection notice – the bill cannot be past 30 days from the date the bill was prepared, proof of household income and a current copy of a bank statement. We do not provide assistance with telephone, cable or trash bills. Utility bills must be in the caller’s name or the person calling must be an authorized user on the account to receive services.

2nd Step: Evaluation and notification

After leaving a voice mail, South County Outreach will review your application or contact you for further information.  If you meet basic criteria and funding is available, you will be contacted to set up an appointment to see a case manager within 10 working days.  If you are not eligible, you may be offered referrals to other agencies that may be able to assist you. Please do not call for status of your application, staff does not have access to this information.

3rd Step (if applicable): Meet with a case manager

At your appointment you will have the opportunity to discuss your situation and needs with a trained case manager.  They will assess your situation to determine eligibility.  Please be sure to bring all documents listed above – if these documents are not provided, South County Outreach will not be able to provide assistance. The initial screening will be conducted to determine income and family size.

4th Step (if applicable): Receive funding

After meeting with a case manager and funding is identified for you, South County Outreach will issue payments directly to your landlord and/or utility company. Checks are not issued on the day of your appointment as we need to contact the landlord or utility company first. Payments are made directly to landlords and utilities. A budget and action plan will be developed and the maximum amount of aid is $1,000. You will need to be prepared to answer question about your household expenses.

While we understand that you may be experiencing a difficult time, rental and utility assistance is by appointment only, no walk-ins are accepted and there are no same-day appointments. We return all inquiries in the order in which they are received.  Please note that due to the overwhelming number of inquiries received each month, it may take some time for us to contact you.

How Rental Assistance works

The program is designed to help tenants with a single month’s rent to avoid an eviction. Applicants more than one month behind on their rent are typically denied aid due to funding restrictions. The amount of rental assistance usually based on the amount needed to make a rent payment. The total aid amount is $1,000 per household.

Applicant requests are carefully screened so that funds will be used to help the greatest number of people in need. We will need contact the landlord and they must agree to participate.

Generally, if you receive assistance from FEMA or Homeless Prevention Funds, you cannot receive this assistance from more than one agency.

How to prevent an eviction

If you are late on your rent, you may have some options for either avoiding or stall an eviction. If you are able to work out an agreement with your landlord you may be able to delay the eviction by providing information on your financial hardship and discussing options. You may be able to get more time to get rent money or some landlords might be willing to temporarily reduce rent so tenants can catch up on late payments. This would be a sign of good faith to help you remain in the home. Apartment communities may be more difficult to negotiate with since they have formal eviction policies to abide by,

Reaching an agreement with your landlord could provide your family with additional moths to either correct the issues behind the impending eviction or to find suitable replacement housing.

If the housing is permanently unaffordable, it may not be useful to fight the eviction. Instead, you may wish to pursue a more amicable split with your landlord. They may be willing to voluntarily break the lease and release you from further liability on the remaining term of the lease if you agree to vacate the premises and turn over the keys. If this is a possibility, it can save money for both parties.