WESTFIELD — Jessica King, Faevea Benton and Xiomara Sanabria from the Valley Opportunity Council were stationed at Park Square Pavilion on Wednesday to help with up to three months of rental and mortgage assistance for Westfield residents who were impacted financially by COVID-19.
King, who is managing the Community Development Block Grant award for Westfield, said she wanted to get out into the community because the city has been awarded money that she wants people to know about.
She said 20 people filled out forms and received information on Wednesday, which is the most she’s had in an ongoing outreach to residents.
The program will pay for one month of past-due rent or mortgage payments, and works with landlords and lenders to pay two months going forward, a total of three months, giving tenants and clients with mortgages a little time to get back on their feet and benefit from this program.
During the outreach at the pavilion and at future in-person events, King and the team are able to give on-the-spot approval for residents who bring a valid ID and proof of income, and who qualify for the assistance.
Westfield Community Development Director Peter J. Miller, who works closely with King and Valley Opportunity Council, said that the city was awarded $253,000, and had spent about $80,000 to date helping 28 families mostly with rental assistance.
Miller said there still is time to spend the funds, but the challenge is to demonstrate that the reason someone needs the rental assistance is due to a job loss or health challenge related to COVID-19.
“The further we get from it, the more difficult it will be to demonstrate the COVID impact,” Miller said. “I would urge people to take advantage of it now and use it, because it’s there for a specific purpose,” he added.
The Valley Opportunity Council also manages the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for Westfield.