The statewide eviction moratorium is ending on Sept. 30. However, for those struggling to make those rent payments, there is still hope because the rent and utility assistance will continue beyond that deadline.
“I was laid off due to COVID in the beginning but right before COVID, I was in a car accident. With that on top of it, it’s been a hard struggle,” said a San Luis Obispo County resident, who asked to remain anonymous.
Estela Nicolas has a baby on the way. She said her savings are long gone after getting her hours cut due to the pandemic.
The Housing Is Key program aims to pay off outstanding rent and utility bills accruing since April 1, 2020.
“Families will be able to receive up to 100% of rent that is past due […] and potentially future rent if they are still impacted. Up to 12 months of assistance is available,” explained Janna Nichols, executive director of 5Cities Homeless Coalition.
Both tenants and landlords can apply for this aid. The program is part of the California Come Back Plan and has $5.2 billion to cover rent and $2 billion for past-due water and utility bills.
“The landlord will be given permission to move forward with the eviction [after Sept. 30],” said Nichols. “However, our hope is and the hope of the state is that rather than going to court, the landlords and tenants will both participate in the program and therefore the rents will be paid.”
The state has received 309,168 applications, and the program has disbursed $649,356,911. So far, 3,780 households in both San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County have applied.
“Not asking for proof of citizenship, it’s about verifying you’ve been economically impacted,” reminded Nichols.
Eligibility is pretty simple.
“Were your job hours cut? Did you lose your job? Did you have additional expenses because you were not able to go to work because of childcare?” added Nichols.
There are tenants who have reported that the website is hard to navigate.
“I had to do it three times over, I had problems with the website,” said the resident who asked to not be named.
Organizations such as 5Cities Homeless Coalition can be a resource to assist.
“This program will be continuing, it doesn’t stop tomorrow, so people can and should apply,” said Nichols.
Among the paperwork tenants will need are one of the following for rent assistance:
- 2020 Tax Return,
- 2020 W2 and 1099G if the applicant was unemployed,
- Pay stubs,
- Proof of participation in a state or federal program such as CalFresh or CalWORKS.
On the other hand, landlords will need all of these documents:
- Lease or rental agreement,
- Rent statement showing the balance of unpaid rent from April 1, 2020,
- W-8 or W-9.
For grants related to utility bills, the renter must submit unpaid bills.