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COVID-19 Rent Relief Funds Available to Oaklanders

The Keep Oakland Housed Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which will distribute federal funds, will focus on those with the highest need and reimburse up to 100% of unpaid rent and utilities.

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About 12.8 million in federal funds and 13.8 million in state funds are available to Oaklanders to help tenants pay, and landlords receive, back rent that was due related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funds will be distributed through the Keep Oakland Housed Emergency Rental Assistance Program and SB 91 State Rental Assistance Program. Both programs begin the process of taking applications and distributing funds on April 1, 2021. Information for both programs will be available and updated through this url: oaklandca.gov/resources/housing-resources-erap-emergency-rental-assistance.

The Keep Oakland Housed Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which will distribute federal funds, will focus on those with the highest need and reimburse up to 100% of unpaid rent and utilities.

The SB 91 State Rental Assistance Program, which distributes state funds, will cast a wider net and reimburse in a different manner. Landlords who have a tenant or tenants who qualify for the program can apply and, if approved through the State Rental Assistance Program, receive 80% of unpaid rent accrued between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021. To receive the 80% rent reimbursement money, landlords must agree to waive the other 20% their tenants owe.

If a tenant’s landlord chooses not to apply through the State Rental Assistance Program, tenants can apply themselves and still receive 25% of rent money owed during that same period.

By then paying that 25% to their landlord, tenants will be protected from eviction for non-payment of rent under state law, although Oakland and Alameda’s eviction moratoriums would protect them from being evicted due to non-payment of rent during this period anyway.

Although Oakland will be prioritizing certain groups first, the City is encouraging anyone who needs rental assistance related to the COVID-19 pandemic to contact its partner not for profit agencies that are helping with these rental assistance programs to see if they are eligible to receive either federal or state funds.

The following agencies can help tenants to directly get rent relief funds or help tenants work with their landlords to get funds: Eviction Defense Center at 510-452-4521 and www.evictiondefensecenteroakland.org, Centro Legal de la Raza at 510-422-5669, Bay Area Community Services (BACS) at 510-899-9289, and Catholic Charities East Bay at 510-768-3100.

Landlords who want to apply for rent money they are owed can contact Housing and Economic Rights Advocates at 510-271-8443, ex. 300 or heraca.org and The East Bay Housing Rental Association at 510-893-9873 or membership@ebrha.com.

The City of Oakland is prioritizing providing funds to seniors, families with children, those who have previously experienced homelessness, households where income is 50% or less of the Bay Area median income, and those who live in certain zip codes with high COVID-19 infection rates. The prioritized zip codes are still being determined. These groups are especially encouraged to seek rent relief through their programs, although funds will be available to others as well. Anyone who thinks they need help with rent relief can reach out to the Oakland partner agencies listed and check the oaklandca.gov/resources/housing-resources-erap-emergency-rental-assistance for continued updates on the programs and help applying for them.

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