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State Sen. Nancy Skinner Alerts Voters on COVID-19 Relief for Renters

As chair of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee, I’m proud to report that the state Legislature, with assistance from the federal government, has now authorized financial relief for both tenants and landlords. Eligible renters and landlords in Contra Costa County and most of Alameda County can apply now for that assistance and will be able to soon if they live or own property in Oakland.

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Nancy Skinner State Senator, District 9

 District 9 State Senator Nancy Skinner wrote a letter to constituents on the relief now available for rental payments to help landlords and tenants. The text of the letter is below.

     Dear Constituent,

     The economic impacts of COVID-19 have made it difficult for millions of Californians to afford their rent payments. In fact, without local, state, and federal action barring evictions, untold numbers of Californians may have faced eviction.

    As chair of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee, I’m proud to report that the state Legislature, with assistance from the federal government, has now authorized financial relief for both tenants and landlords. Eligible renters and landlords in Contra Costa County and most of Alameda County can apply now for that assistance and will be able to soon if they live or own property in Oakland.

    Senate Bill 91, approved earlier this year by the Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom, greenlights the distribution of $2.6 billion in federal funding for rental assistance to ensure that low-income California tenants who were unable to pay all or part of their rent over the past year may have their entire rental debt erased, and their landlords will be able to receive 80% of what is owed in back rent.

    Here is how tenants and landlords impacted by the pandemic can apply for relief in Contra Costa and Alameda counties and in the city of Oakland:

Alameda County

  • Alameda County has launched its own renter-landlord relief program, Alameda County Housing Secure. Alameda County’s program mirrors the Housing is Key program in how it works, although it prioritizes very low-income residents and small landlords who depend heavily on their income from a rental property.
  • Tenants and landlords in Alameda County are able to apply for relief using Alameda County Housing Secure – NOTE: renters who live and landlords who own property in Oakland must apply to the City of Oakland’s program (see description below for application process).

 

Contra Costa County

Contra Costa is using Housing Is Key, the state-run program for tenant-landlord relief.

Here are the key components of Housing Is Key:

  • Landlords owed back rent because their COVID-impacted tenants were unable to pay full rent since last year must fill out an application on the Housing Is Key website.
  • Renters who were unable to pay their full rent since last year must also apply on Housing Is Key.
  • Once both the landlord and tenant have applied and met the criteria under the Housing Is Key program, landlords will be paid by the state 80% of the back rent they’re owed from March 2020 through April 2021 (based on the availability of funding). 
  • Eligible renters will have the rental debt they accumulated from March 2020 to April 2021 erased and be protected from eviction through June 30, 2021, as long as the renter pays at least 25% of their rent each month in April, May, and June 2021.
  • Depending on the availability of funding, renters who are accepted into the program will be reimbursed for up to 25% of their rent for the months of April, May, and June.
  • Funding under SB 91 will be prioritized for low-income tenants, based on their 2020 earnings or their monthly household income at the time of the application. All renters who have been unable to pay some or all of their rent in the past year are encouraged to apply.
  • Renters of landlords who decline to participate in the program can still be eligible for the rental assistance dating back to April of last year. To obtain this assistance, the renter must submit their application to Housing Is Key website and must pay at least 25% of their monthly rent for April 2020 through June 2021 to be protected from eviction through June 30.
  • Landlords may not apply a tenant’s security deposit to cover the rental debt, cannot charge late fees, and may not take legal action to seek recovery of COVID-related rental debt until July 1.

Oakland

  • Starting soon, Oakland tenants and landlords who own property in Oakland will also be able to apply through the state program Housing Is Keyas laid out above.
  • Oakland tenants whose landlords do not apply to Housing is Key, may still receive rental assistance through the City of Oakland’s own program Keep Oakland Housed. Applications under Keep Oakland Housed rental assistance funding are scheduled to be available beginning April 1. Keep Oakland Housed is a rental assistance program designed for very low-income tenants and is not limited to the rules detailed in the description of Housing is Key listed above.

As a reminder, here in the East Bay, all tenants who have been unable to pay their full rent due to the pandemic, regardless of whether they meet the income eligibility requirement for the rental assistance described above, are protected from eviction thanks to bans enacted by both Alameda and Contra Costa counties. 

     Alameda County’s ban on evictions impacted by the pandemic remains in effect until 60 days after the county’s health emergency is lifted. That health emergency is in effect indefinitely. Contra Costa County’s eviction ban extends until June 30. NOTE: the eviction ban only covers inability to pay due to the pandemic and not other actions that would otherwise qualify for a just cause eviction.

Also, for homeowners, Biden recently announced the extension of the nationwide ban on foreclosures through June 30. Biden’s order also extended the enrollment window for mortgage payment forbearance until June 30.

I hope you find this information helpful. It’s an honor to serve you in the state Senate.

Sincerely,

Nancy Skinner
State Senator, District 9

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