With the passage of Assembly Bill 832, Sonoma County has expanded financial support available to tenants and landlords through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The resources from the Emergency Rental Assistance Program that were enacted on April 19, 2021, have expanded to provide broader rental assistance, more equitable access, housing stability throughout the county, as well as extending the eviction moratorium in Sonoma County until November 1, 2021.
Sonoma County so far has provided $5,302,388 in rental assistance to more than 2,468 local residents through the rental assistance program. The program is ongoing with more than $25 million still available for distribution, is open to anyone living in Sonoma County regardless of immigration status, for renters, or landlords requiring rental assistance.
California’s Assembly Bill 832 extended multiple existing tenant protections to those who were unable to pay rent throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and amended compensation rates for rental assistance. Under the bill, the eviction moratorium is extended statewide and includes the prohibition on commencing an action in small claims court to recover COVID-19 rental debt until November 1, 2021. The Bill also amends the previous compensation rate for an eligible household’s unpaid rental debt accumulated on or after April 1, 2020, to 100 percent.
This bill also requires funds used to provide assistance for future rent payments for an eligible household to be set at 100 percent of the eligible household’s monthly rent. The amends from 80 percent to 100 percent apply to both rounds of the rental assistance programs. Landlords who accepted 80 percent of arrears during the first round of rental assistance will be reimbursed the remaining 20 percent without applying again.
“We deeply appreciate the willingness of landlords to forgive 20 percent of past-due rent during the first round of rental assistance,” said Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, Chair of the Board of Supervisors, “But we are extremely happy that they will be compensated the full amount during the second round of disbursement. This will keep tenants housed, making landlords whole, while still paying 100 percent of prospective rent and utilities. Our community continues to demonstrate its resilience by coming together during these hard times and truly demonstrating the meaning of being Sonoma Strong.”
In addition to the increase in payments for both past-due and upcoming rent, individuals will be able to apply for a variety of new housing expenses such as financial assistance associated with moving costs, assistance to pay arrears that were left at previous rentals, hotel stays during transitions and security deposits for COVID-19-impacted individuals in need of new housing. The program will also remove the one-application-per-household rule, eliminating limitations on roommates and multi-family housing units from applying.
“The emergency rental assistance program that was initially launched in April was a great first step,” said Sonoma County’s Interim Director of Health Services Tina Rivera, “but these new changes remove barriers that were limiting our more vulnerable community members from applying and receiving the support they needed. The changes increase equitable access to the funds available and continue to support the community on a large scale.”
Under the expanded program, tenants and landlords may apply for a combined total of 18 months worth of rental support. Individuals who need help applying for the funds can receive assistance in English or Spanish from one of the community-based organizations listed on SoCoEmergency.org. Individuals may apply online or by mail. All applicants will be notified if they have or have not been selected through email, or via mail if an application was mailed in. The application process is open and available to all individuals living in Sonoma County, regardless of immigration status.
For more information please visit SoCoEmergency.org/erap