Tom Butt
  E-Mail Forum – 2021  
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  Rent Payment Assistance Available Now!
July 29, 2021

Thanks to Senator Skinner for the following:

If you are a renter having difficulty paying your rent or anticipate that you will in the next few months, or if you are a landlord whose tenant has not been able to pay rent, California has just authorized additional funds to provide financial relief to tenants and landlords.

Budget bill AB 832, provides $5.2 billion to help struggling California renters by covering rent that a tenant may owe for as far back as April 2020 - along with future rent payments, if needed. AB 832 also extends California's eviction moratorium to Sept. 30.

Under the state's previous rental assistance program, rent payments were capped at up to 80% of back rent owed. The new program will cover up to 100% of back and future rent and can help low-income renters pay some or all of their unpaid utility bills.

If you're a renter and meet the income eligibility requirement (see below) and owe back rent, or have future rent payments you anticipate you can't make, or are facing difficulty paying your utility bills, please apply for this program. And if you know someone who would benefit from this important program, please urge them to apply.

Income eligibility is based on you or your family's adjusted gross income. In Alameda and Contra Costa counties, if you are a single taxpayer and your adjusted gross income (AGI) based on your recent pay stubs, unemployment payment, or other proof of income is up to $76,750, you meet the income eligibility threshold. Two-person joint filers are eligible with adjusted gross income of up to $87,700, and three are eligible with AGI of up to $98,650. Income eligibility for filers with more than three persons is adjusted accordingly.  

Applications will be prioritized based on need. Those applicants with the lowest incomes will have their applications processed first, however, the state does not anticipate running out of rental assistance funds, so everyone who has the need for this assistance and meets the income-eligibility requirement should apply.

Here are the key elements of the newly revised rental assistance program:

  • Either renters or landlords can apply. NOTE: the application process works best (and fastest) if both the tenant and landlord complete it cooperatively.
    • If both the tenant(s) and landlord apply, then up to 100% of unpaid back rent - and up to three months of future rent - will be paid directly to the landlord.
  • Tenants can apply on their own without a landlord applying.
    • In that case, program staff will contact the landlord directly.
    • If the landlord still declines to participate, the payments will go to the tenant, who must sign a legally binding document agreeing to transmit 100% of the payments to their landlord within 15 days.
  • A landlord may apply on their own, if their tenant doesn't apply
    • In this case, program staff will contact the tenant directly. If the tenant(s) qualifies and agrees, then the landlord will be paid directly the back rent that is owed.
    • However, if the tenant(s) still declines to participate, then, unfortunately, because of federal rules, the landlord will be ineligible to receive any program funds.
  • For tenants and landlords who already applied through Housing Is Key and received up to 80% of back rent, the Housing Is Key program will automatically "top off" those recipients to up to 100% of what is owed without the need to reapply.
    • However, tenants who need help paying future rent have to apply again to have their future rent obligations covered.
  • The program also allows non-occupancy payments. If a tenant who owes back rent has vacated the rental unit, then the tenant and landlord can apply for up to 100% of what is owed.
  • Utility Payments. Low-income renters who have been unable to pay some or all of their utilities because of the pandemic - or can't pay future utilities - can also apply for assistance on paying their utility bills. Payments will be made directly to the utility provider.

Tenants living in, or landlords owning property in Contra Costa County, submit your application here: Housing Is Key.

Eviction Protection

All renters statewide are protected from eviction for inability to pay rent until at least Sept. 30. These eviction protections only cover inability to pay due to the pandemic and not other actions that otherwise qualify for a just cause eviction.

Renters who submit an application to the rental assistance program by Sept. 30 are protected from eviction beyond Sept. 30 while their rental assistance application is being processed.

So submit your application ASAP. Don't wait.