Time Running Out for COVID-19 Rent Relief. Here’s How to Get It.
California’s eviction moratorium will expire on Thursday, Sept. 30, and while time is running out, the city of Fresno and community-based organizations are teaming to help residents throughout Fresno County get the rental assistance they need.
On Saturday, a housing rights workshop will take place with the Central Valley People’s Housing Coalition and local attorneys helping residents apply for rental assistance and housing rights information.
100% Rent Relief Available
After receiving $35 million in emergency rental assistance from the federal and state government, the city started the Emergency Rental Assistance Program in March. The goal: to provide 100% debt relief for eligible renters and landlords.
Earlier this month, the city also voted to distribute an additional $5.2 million in funds to the six CBOs: Reading and Beyond, the Jakara Movement, Centro la Familia, The Fresno Center, West Fresno Family Resource Center, and the Education and Leadership Foundation.
With ERAP, those who make less than 80% of the median income, were negatively impacted by COVID-19 and were unable to pay their full amount of rent and utilities from April 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2021, are eligible for funding.
However, as the clock winds down, the reality is that many residents eligible for help have yet to apply for rent relief.
??Calling all #Fresno renters. Join us Sat., 9/25, @ 10AM. ???
✅Meet with attorneys to learn your #HousingRights.
✅Need help filling out the #COVID19 rent application?
✅Need help applying for CalFresh?
✅Pick-up a “grab-n-go” meal box with pantry items! pic.twitter.com/5obdS6JQKn
— Dr. Janine Nkosi (@JanineNkosi) September 22, 2021
Challenges in Distributing ERAP Funding
Fresno County Public Information Officer Sonja Dosti says there has been some confusion among residents about filling out the applications.
“What I understand is, some people apply for the city, and they don’t realize that maybe they are supposed to apply for the county assistance,” said Dosti.
Similarly, Dosti says some people apply for county assistance when they should be seeking rental assistance from the city of Fresno.
She says the county has distributed about 70% of rental relief funds to county residents who have applied.
Meanwhile, the city of Fresno as of today has distributed a total of $9.3 million in ERAP funding along with $1.1 million in utility assistance for PG&E.
Last Call for Rental Assistance Guidance
With eviction protections set to expire at the end of this month, other community organizations have stepped up to help renters and landlords complete rent relief applications.
Among these organizations, Faith in the Valley, Power California, Fresno Barrio Unidos, Jakara Movement, Loud for Tomorrow, and Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability will host a “Know Your Rights” workshop on Saturday.
From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the workshop will have interpreters available for Hmong, Punjabi, and Spanish speakers. The workshop will help tenants apply for rent relief, provide information on what to do if you are at risk of being evicted, and will have a question and answer session with housing attorneys for those who may have legal questions.
The event will take place in FIRM’s courtyard located at 1940 N. Fresno Street in Fresno.
Related Story: Families Paying off Rent, Food, Debts With Child Tax Credit
Eviction Changes After Sept. 30
As a lead-up to the in-person workshop, the Leadership Council has hosted online Zoom meetings for individuals who are interested in learning more about legal housing matters, evictions, and ERAP funding.
Jamie Katz, an attorney with LCJA, says the law is complicated, particularly when it pertains to housing rights and tenants’ rights.
“The law is unjust and is written in a way that favors landlords,” said Katz while hosting a housing rights meeting on Zoom.
Having an eviction on your records can have significant consequences. And, after these eviction protections end, tenants will only have 15 days after the eviction moratorium ends on Sept. 30 to apply for ERAP if they have received an eviction notice for nonpayment of rent.
Currently, tenants who return a declaration and pay 25% of rent they owed between Sept. 1, 2020, and Sep. 30, 2021, cannot be evicted by their landlords for not paying 75% of that rent.
Starting Oct. 1, 2021, through March 1, 2021, landlords will only be able to move forward with eviction lawsuits if they can prove either they or the tenant applied for rental assistance and were denied.
As for late rent notices, instead of 15-day notices, the system reverts to three-day notices.
Application form Links for Residents of the City of Fresno:
Here is the application form link to download the Emergency Rental Assistance Application in English, Spanish, Hmong, and Punjabi.
City residents can apply for rent relief by visiting era.fresno.gov
Contact Community Organizations Assisting with COVID-19 Rent Relief
- Reading and Beyond: (559) 214-0317
- The Fresno Center: (559) 898-2565
- Centro La Familia: (559) 237-2961
- Education & Leadership Foundation: (559) 291-5428
- Jakara Movement: (559) 549-4088
- West Fresno Family Resource Center: (559) 621-2967
Application form Links for Residents of Fresno County:
County residents outside the city of Fresno can apply by visiting fresnorentalhelp.com
Residents can send their application forms by mail to RH Community Builders Attn: ERAP, 2550 W Clinton Ave #142, Fresno, CA 93705, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For any questions, call (559) 515-4700
Here are the application form links for tenants to download in English and Spanish
Here are the application form links for landlords to download in English
Lastly, here is the application form link for the Declaration of COVID-19 Related Financial Distress in English