Both the city and county have a few million dollars in federal stimulus funding to distribute through their joint CONNECT program, which employees a team of navigators to link locals with nonprofits that provide direct assistance with rent, food and other necessities.
Between March and November, according to Santa Fe County, the number of requests for assistance through CONNECT nearly quadrupled during the COVID-19 pandemic — from 443 in 2019 to 1,523 this year.
“There are funds available. If you’re in need, please reach out,” said Jennifer Romero, Santa Fe County’s health care assistance administrative program manager. “I’ve had to call in extra help to process all the applications. It’s getting busy.”
Romero said both the city and county received $3 million in federal CARES Act funding in October for CONNECT and have until the end of December to distribute the money to their network of nonprofits such as Adelante, which works with homeless families in Santa Fe Public Schools, plus food banks and immigrant law groups.
She added 29 percent of assistance requests so far this year have been for housing and shelter, and the county has recently started a program to deliver meals to homebound individuals.
According to the National Council of State Housing Agencies, 60,000 to 80,000 renter households in New Mexico will be at risk of eviction by the end of the year. The city and county aren’t the only agencies providing pandemic assistance.
Through Friday, the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority is accepting applications to receive up to $4,500 in rental assistance from a $12.3 million CARES Act grant. Meanwhile, the Santa Fe County Housing Authority is offering both rent and mortgage assistance through its Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance Program.