CA COVID-19 Rent Relief

As of March 15, 2021, the state has begun to accept applications to distribute the first $2.6 billion of direct rental assistance. This was allocated to California from the December 2020 federal stimulus package. Tenants and housing providers will be eligible for up to a year of unpaid back rent (April 2020 through March 2021) and allow up to three months of future rent payments (April 2021 through June 2021), depending on the availability of funds. Both tenants and housing providers are eligible to apply if certain criteria are met. 

  • The program is voluntary for housing providers to participate and apply but they will only be able to receive up to 80% of unpaid back rent and must forgo the remaining 20%
  • Tenants of housing providers who do not opt into the program will be eligible to apply for a 25% payment of unpaid rent so they will be protected monthly from the eviction moratorium until it expires.

The bill prioritizes households with the highest need for rent relief, targeting households with less than 80% area median income (AMI) and utilizing rounds to prioritize those who need rent relief the most:

  • Round 1: Below 50% AMI or unemployed for 90 days.
  • Round 2: Income below 80% AMI and in a community disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
  • Round 3: Everyone below 80% AMI not addressed in round 1 or 2 above.

The state has created a housing provider checklist and a tenant checklist for the requirements to complete a rental assistance application.

The portal that you can use to apply for state rental assistance is now live.

The City of San Jose and the County of Santa Clara will receive additional funds to implement local rental assistance programs. These local programs will give first priority to extremely low-income tenants making 30% or less of the Area Median Income (AMI). Local aid is expected to be finalized shortly and will begin accepting applications in late March or early April.

The most recent federal stimulus package has been signed into law (American Rescue Plan) and will allocate additional funds to these rental assistance programs, as well as a homeowner assistance fund (mortgage assistance, unpaid utilities, and more).