Rent Relief Now Available to Low-Income Tenants and Housing Providers

Two woman holding signs in front of Carol's house

Help is here! After a year of organizing to fill the financial hole created by COVID-19 among low-income renters and housing providers, $171 million in rental assistance is now available in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties (with more on the way, thanks to the American Rescue Plan)! Since the start of the pandemic, EBHO has insisted that no one who’s suffered due to COVID-19 should lose their home or end up with a mountain of rental debt. And we’ve called upon our leaders to prioritize assistance for tenants and owners of affordable housing so that our communities don’t lose this precious resource to speculative investors, who’ve caused so much housing insecurity for low-income residents and communities of color in the first place.

Thank you for standing with us! We couldn’t have done it without our members and supporters. Now, we need to work together to get rental assistance to the people who need it most.

  1. First, as a reminder, state and local eviction protections are still in effect. This means that, if you’ve experienced a financial loss due to COVID-19, you can’t be evicted for non-payment of rent since the start of the pandemic, so long as you meet certain requirements. (See more detail on these protections and requirements here.) The information in this email is about how to apply for financial assistance to help address that rental debt. (In some instances, the assistance can also be used to pay for utility debt and/or future rent and utility payments.)
  2. I’m a tenant. Am I eligible for rental assistance? In general, aid is limited to households that make less than 80% of area median income (AMI)–regardless of immigration status–and have experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19. However, in most cases, aid will be targeted to households that make less than 50% or 30% of AMI or live in affordable housing. (Not sure if you fall into these income categories? Check out the top chart.) In order to learn more about the requirements and priorities of your community, find the city or county where you live below.
  3. Does my landlord need to agree? Yes, in most cases, your landlord needs to agree to the terms of the rental assistance program in order for you to receive 100% debt forgiveness. But if your landlord refuses, then they may not be able to sue you for the full debt in court. In addition, you’re still entitled to payment equal to 25% of your overall rental debt, which you can then use to cover the portion of your rent needed to receive long-term eviction protections.
  4. Will I need to provide documentation? Yes, you’ll need to try to provide evidence that you meet the income criteria and have suffered an economic hardship. When you apply, there are non-profit organizations available to help you do so. However, if you’re unable to provide such evidence, then you can likely sign a document that self-certifies that you qualify for aid. If you live in affordable housing, then your landlord can likely assist you in providing documentation.

Note: You won’t be asked about your immigration status in any way, and information won’t be shared with immigration authorities.

How To Apply For Rental Assistance:

Oakland

Apply Online or Call 510-899-9289, 510-860-4985, or 510-452-4541.

Oakland will prioritize relief for renters who make less than 30% of AMI (Area Median Income) and/or are at heightened risk of homelessness. It will also target communities with high rates of COVID-19 infection and households with children, seniors, or people with disabilities. Unlike the State program, which will pay 80% of back rent accrued since April 1st, 2020, Oakland will pay 100% of back rent for the renters that are most vulnerable to severe housing insecurity (up to $15,000). The City will also pay 100% of the back rent owed by eligible tenants who live in affordable housing or units owned by small landlords (1-5 units). If there’s money remaining, the City may be able to pay a portion of future rent on behalf of the tenant.

Renters who make less than 80% of AMI, but aren’t covered by the Oakland program, can apply to the State program. The State will prioritize renters who make less than 50% of AMI or live in areas hit hard by COVID-19. The State will pay 80% of back rent accrued since April 1st, 2020. In exchange, the landlord must forgive the remaining 20%. If a landlord refuses to participate, then the State will pay 25% of back rent to the tenant so that they can pay the landlord directly and qualify for long-term eviction protections. If there’s money remaining, the State may be able to pay a portion of future rent on behalf of the tenant.

Click here for more information on housing assistance for low-income households in Oakland.

For owners of affordable housing, email housingassistance@oaklandca.gov ASAP to request a bulk application for your properties. For questions, email Maryann Leshin.

Fremont

Apply Online or Call 510-574-2028

Fremont will provide relief for renters who make less than 80% of Area Median Income (AMI), but will prioritize those who make less than 50% of AMI, pay over 50% of their income in rent, and/or have been unemployed for over 90 days at the time of application. It will also prioritize tenants who live in affordable housing. Initially, Fremont will pay 100% of back rent for the renters that are most vulnerable to serious housing insecurity. After that, the City will only be able to provide 80% of back rent, requiring landlords to forgive the remaining 20%. If there’s money remaining, the City may be able to pay a portion of future rent on behalf of the tenant.

For questions related to owners of affordable housing, email Aki Snelling.

Alameda County

Apply Online or Call 211

Renters who live in Alameda County, but don’t live in Oakland or Fremont, can apply for aid through the County’s program. Alameda County will prioritize relief for renters who make less than 30% of AMI and/or are at heightened risk of homelessness, including due to a history of incarceration. It will also target tenants who live in affordable housing or units owned by small, economically vulnerable landlords (1-5 units). Initially, Alameda County will pay 100% of back rent for the renters that are most vulnerable to serious housing insecurity. After that, the County will only be able to provide 80% of back rent, requiring landlords to forgive the remaining 20%. If there’s money remaining, the County may be able to pay a portion of future rent on behalf of the tenant.

For owners of affordable housing, visit this link ASAP to request a bulk application for your properties. For an overview and questions, see this presentation and email LaToya Tooles or Margaux Payton.

Contra Costa County

Apply Online or Call 833-430-2122

Contra Costa County will not run its own rental assistance program. Renters who make less than 80% of Area Median Income (AMI) can apply to the State program. The State will prioritize renters who make less than 50% of AMI or live in areas hit hard by COVID-19. The State will pay 80% of back rent accrued since April 1st, 2020. In exchange, the landlord must forgive the remaining 20%. If a landlord refuses to participate, then the State will pay 25% of back rent to the tenant so that they can pay the landlord directly and qualify for long-term eviction protections. If there’s money remaining, the State may be able to pay a portion of future rent on behalf of the tenant. While tenants who live in affordable housing are eligible for support, the State won’t prioritize relief for affordable housing communities.

Join EBHO’s Informational Webinar on Rental Assistance – April 16th

Join our Rent Relief Infosession on April 16th at 12:00 pm. Our Policy Associate, Alex Werth, will present information on the rent relief programs and answer questions.

Don’t forget to share this page with people in your community who need rental assistance! Forward this email to them and invite them to our Webinar on the 16th. If you have any questions, please email alex@ebho.org.

Sign Up for Email Updates to receive information like this in the future.