Family & Intercultural Resource Center offers rental assistance as people struggle to make ends meet in level red
As level red restrictions start to take a toll on the Summit County community, the Family & Intercultural Resource Center is providing rental assistance to those who need it most.
With the help of funding from town and county governments, the nonprofit is providing rental relief for December and January. People can qualify for the money if they live or work in Summit County and have been affected by the pandemic in some way.
People can apply for the relief by visiting SummitFIRC.org and clicking on the “COVID Info” tab.
The nonprofit originally offered rental assistance in the spring, when stay-at-home orders forced many people out of work. This time around, the funding is in response to level red restrictions at the state level, which limit capacity and, therefore, revenue at local businesses.
Since the application opened Thursday, Dec. 3, Executive Director Brianne Snow said the nonprofit already has seen high demand for the funding: About 400 applications worth more than $500,000 have been submitted. When the nonprofit offered the program in March, it gave about $1 million in housing assistance within eight weeks.
“This time around, we’ve noticed rents have increased, and there’s not as many people living and working up here, so a lot of folks do not have the roommates that they did,” Snow said. “A lot of people are just struggling to make their budgets work to afford housing.”
Of the applications the nonprofit has received so far, 81% of the applicants work in restaurant or food services, Snow said. The applications also lean heavily toward people who have lived in Summit County for some time: 91% are people who have lived in the county for over a year.
“We’re just really trying to help stabilize the workforce so that if and when we can open back up, we will have the folks that work in that service industry that make this community the great place it is to live,” Snow said.
The threat of losing the county’s workforce is real; 90% of the applicants say they can’t afford to live in Summit County for longer than three months without the assistance, Snow said.
So far, the nonprofit has about $800,000 from the community to help fund the rental relief, which averages about $1,200 per month per applicant. The town of Breckenridge alone has donated $500,000 out of its general fund to the cause.
“There’s obviously a lot of people that are either out of work or they’re on super limited hours,” Mayor Eric Mamula said. “Those people are locals; they make up our workforce. Without them, we can’t run any business in the community.”
Summit County government was another major donor to the cause. The county received $1.8 million in surplus coronavirus relief funding in November. Of that $1.8 million, $500,000 can be used for direct relief to the community, County Manager Scott Vargo said.
The county donated $200,000 to the nonprofit for the rental relief, and it will donate $50,000 more if there is need. The rest of the funding from the $500,000 is going toward relief grants for businesses in unincorporated Summit County.
The rest of the $1.8 million the county received is being used to pay for other COVID-19-related expenses, such as extra staff, infrastructure and emergency operations, Vargo said.
“We absolutely understand the pain that exists and the struggle that exists in our community as a result of the restrictions that are in place,” Vargo said. “We want to provide some level of support to try to help get them through these very trying times.”
The Family & Intercultural Resoruce Center also has received a $100,000 grant from the Family Resource Center Association to help with the rental relief funds.
Snow said the nonprofit is first working through the county’s funding, as the CARES Act requires it to be spent before the end of the year. Once that funding is up, the nonprofit will look to Frisco and Silverthorne, both of which have offered to donate if there is need.
“We’ve made it clear that we want to know the moment there is a need, that we want to fund that need for the residents and people working in Frisco,” Frisco spokesperson Vanessa Agee said.
In the spring, Frisco donated $250,000 from its general fund to the nonprofit’s relief efforts. Agee said the Frisco Town Council is ready to call a special meeting to approve more funding.
While local governments and organizations are doing what they can, officials are hoping for more funding from the federal government.
“The town can only do so much, honestly,” Mamula said. “When you get right down to it, the federal government at some point is going to need to step in.”
In addition to rental relief, the resource center is continuing to provide assistance with access to food, mental health and physical health care. To access any of those resources, people can visit SummitFIRC.org.
Snow said the best way for individuals to donate to the relief fund is to visit the nonprofit’s website or donate to The Summit Foundation.
• Family & Intercultural Resource Center: 970-262-3888
• Summit Community and Senior Center: 970-668-2940
• Dillon Community Church: 970-468-2461
• Father Dyer United Methodist Church: 970-453-2250
• Family & Intercultural Resource Center: SummitFirc.org/volunteer
• Summit County Community and Senior Center: 970-668-2940
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