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Bakersfield, Kern County widen eligibility for local rent and mortgage subsidies

Tenants and homeowners in Kern County who previously wouldn't have qualified for subsidized pay or mortgage assistance during the pandemic may now be able to get the financial help they need thanks to changes made this week by the city of Bakersfield and the county Board of Supervisors.

Both government bodies voted to substantially loosen application requirements for a series of housing subsidy programs while also doubling the maximum individual award to $10,000.

Now, applicants may participate if they have a household income of up to 120 percent of the area's median income, up from 80 percent when the council and the board each contributed $5 million in September to a fund managed by the county Housing Authority.

For a local family of four, the maximum qualifying income is now $83,880, up from $55,900.

Qualified participants can apply online through the Housing Authority's website, www.kernHA.org, or go directly to the application at bit.ly/2IAAHVc.

The Housing Authority urged landlords and mortgage lenders to consider applying on behalf of their tenants or borrowers.  An application for doing so is available online at bit.ly/3nfxs4G.

The amended rent and mortgage assistance programs are set to expire Dec. 31 or as soon as the money available runs out, whichever is first.

Community Action Partnership of Kern helped roll out the programs' streamlined, online application process.