Q: Can you tell me about the new state rent relief program I heard is available in California?

A: California COVID-19 Rent Relief is a new state-run program that launched on March 15 to provide emergency rental assistance to California households and landlords impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will help eligible households and landlords to pay rent and utilities, both for past due and future payments.

The financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are still being felt across the country, and paying rent on time remains a hardship for many in our local counties. Throughout this past year, various rental relief programs have been available, depending on your city and qualifications. All have been geared to help people who have a reduced or lost income due to the pandemic.

The new state program benefits renters and landlords alike. It provides rent reimbursement to landlords for unpaid rent from April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021. Landlords may receive 80% of unpaid rent, as long as they agree to waive the remaining 20% of unpaid rent. This means the renter will not have to owe the remaining 20%.

If a landlord does not wish to participate, an eligible renter can still use this program to receive 25% of unpaid rent accrued between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021. Paying the 25% of past due rent by June 30, 2021, can help keep renters in their homes under the extended eviction protections provided in SB91.

It’s often misunderstood that paying rent is not necessary because of the eviction moratorium. However, there have always been rules and procedures in place and written requests must be made. For general questions about your rights as a renter or a landlord you may contact the Housing Rights Center at 800-477-5977 or visit their website and access their resources at www.housingrightscenter.org.

Either the tenant or landlord can start the application process, which will first prioritize households at the greatest risk of eviction and then expand eventually to households earning less than the 80% of AMI (area median income). No citizenship questions are asked as part of the application. To learn more about the program or to apply, visit HousingIsKey.com or call the CA COVID-19 Rent Relief Call Center at 833-430-2122.

Local community partners are helping with questions and to assist in filling out the application. To find a local partner, contact the call center at 833-430-2122 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. daily.

If you are struggling financially, consider all areas for assistance, including CalFresh (previously known as food stamps) to help with groceries and the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) to help pay utilities. To learn about these and other benefits, contact the County of Ventura Human Services Agency at www.vchsa.org or 866-904-9362. Additionally, the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging (VCAAA) has a Benefits Enrollment Center that can help assess what other benefits may be available to you. You can reach VCAAA at 805-477-7300.

Help is available. Please reach out to connect with the many countywide partners that have resources to help during these difficult times.

Martha Shapiro can be reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at mshapiro@seniorconcerns.org

Print Friendly, PDF & Email