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With thousands of applications still pending for COVID-related housing aid, Sonoma County officials Friday stopped accepting new requests for help. 
 
That doesn't mean those still awaiting a reply are out of luck.
 
County spokesman Gilbert Martinez said, "We paused the program, in the sense that we will not be accepting new applications, but those 4,000 applications [submitted before Feb. 11] will still be reviewed, and funding permitted will all be, hopefully be allocated the amount of money they requested."
  
Launched earlier in the pandemic, the program sought to prevent potentially thousands from becoming homeless as layoffs spread and economic activity declined.
 
"It's an unprecedented program, a very bold program, but these were also unprecedented times. we are proud that we were able to step up and deliver nearly $40 million in relief funds," Martinez said.
  
Although just under two thirds of the available aid has been distributed, Martinez said the average amount requested has declined, possibly leaving enough to fund all remaining eligible applicants.
 
While the roll-out has had kinks nationally, locally, Martinez said the aid prevented more families from joining the hundreds already homeless across the county.
 
"When the program started, that was one of the things, not just from us but from the state and federal was, help those who are most in need, those in peril of being evicted, and if being evicted having a hard time getting back on their feet," Martinez said "That's why the program was able not only pay not only the past-due rent, but for some individuals even their upcoming rent, as a means for people not to scrape by, but to come out of it able to stand up on their own two feet. We're very proud that just about 75 percent of all funding went to people who made under 50 percent of the area median income."
 
Half of the area median income, known as AMI, is $45,450 for a family of four in Sonoma County. Martinez said those wanting an update about their application should contact the community based organization to which they were assigned. 
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