Local COVID response programs win top state honors

Published Dec. 15, 2021

Two collaborative Placer County Human Services programs addressing economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have received top awards from the California State Association of Counties for 2021.

The CSAC awards spotlight the most innovative programs developed and implemented by California counties.

Placer’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program, a joint effort of the City of Roseville Housing Division and the Placer County Housing Authority, was recognized with CSAC’s Challenge Award for its quick and efficient delivery of cash assistance to those struggling to pay rent or utilities due to pandemic-related income loss.

While many communities throughout the state experienced difficulties disbursing historic levels of financial support available through the ERA program, Placer’s two local housing agencies partnered to share funding and develop a single online application platform to rapidly provide assistance to eligible county residents in all local jurisdictions - providing more than $10.2 million to Placer residents to date.

“Hundreds of people received emergency assistance thanks to quick action,” said Roseville Housing Manager Trisha Isom. “By cutting through the red tape, Roseville and Placer County were able to provide a critical lifeline when residents and landlords needed it most.”

“It was a great experience partnering with Roseville Housing, and the perfect solution for our communities,” said Placer County Human Services Director Greg Geisler. “Roseville knows their neighborhoods, residents and landlords best. Their experience and input really helped us get the program off the ground, and the partnership has resulted in additional collaboration on other new programs.”

Also key to the program’s success were local nonprofit partners. The Placer Community Foundation and 211 Placer were contracted to lead efforts to ensure community awareness of the program, and AMI Housing and Sierra Community House helped process applications. Madrigal Training Services was the contracted training provider for the program. 

“Housing has been a challenge in Placer County for some time and the pandemic made it much harder for many of our community members, especially in the North Lake Tahoe area,” said District 5 Supervisor Cindy Gustafson. “The extraordinary efforts of this partnership to help people stay in their homes truly spared many of our residents from more devastating impacts and I am so appreciative of that work.”

Human Services’ Resource Huddle initiative was recognized with a CSAC Merit Award for its innovative approach to providing a variety of critical supports to customers virtually as unemployment assistance needs evolved during the pandemic. Formerly an in-person hiring event called Job Huddle, the Resource Huddle responded to emerging requests from customers to not only be matched with job opportunities but also with food, diapers, work clothes and low-cost internet services to help reduce employment barriers. 

The Resource Huddle’s virtual format allows customers to attend without having to leave their homes—and is personalized with resources and job leads, updated in real time. Customers are now finding work in local markets, delivery, and manufacturing.

“The pandemic has been difficult in so many ways and our partnerships with other jurisdictions and community-based organizations have been essential to addressing all dimensions of its impacts,” said Placer County Health and Human Services Department Director Dr. Rob Oldham. “While Public Health has often been the most visible part of our response, these awards are welcome recognition of the critical and outstanding work by all of our collaborators to help our community get through this challenging time together.”