Even before the pandemic, many people were rent burdened, with a quarter of renters paying more than half their income on rent. Keeping people housed during the pandemic is a public health priority, and because the COVID-19 pandemic increased financial pressure on many renter households, the US Congress passed two bills containing $45 billion for emergency rental assistance programs (ERAP) that states and local governments can use to support people in need.
With limits on staff and resources, Orange County United Way needed a way to manage the application-to-approval-to-fund process that would not inundate their call center or create lengthy queue times, and would allow financial relief to arrive in a timely manner to those who need it the most. Orange County United Way collaborated with AWS to build AssistOC, a highly secure mobile and web-enabled app that automates this process and allows people in Orange County, California to submit requests for financial assistance to the nonprofit’s Homelessness Prevention Program. As part of the nonprofit’s Homelessness Prevention Program, the app has enabled Orange County United Way to connect 7,874 families with funds reserved for COVID related emergency assistance that were part of a $5.35 million Pandemic Relief Fund.