San Diego County officials announced Tuesday the creation of a $100 million rental and utility grant program.
The Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) is primarily targeted at assisting low-income renters in the County who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. To qualify for ERAP, the renter must have a financial hardship directly related to COVID-19, is at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability, is currently not receiving any forms of rental subsidy or assistance such as Section 8 or non-profit rental assistance, and must have a household income at or below 80% of the area median income.
ERAP eligible people will receive funds that go directly to paying rent and utilities such as water, electricity, gas, trash, and others not already included in rent. The amount covered by ERAP is dependent on if the landlord wants to be in the program, with landlords being able to apply for ERAP on behalf of renters behind in payments.
“First priority will be given to applicants whose household income is at or below 50% of area median income and households that have one or more members who have been unemployed at least 90 days from the date of application,” noted the San Diego County Board of Supervisors in a press release on Wednesday. “Applications will be further prioritized to reach single-parent households and residents who live in areas that have less access to healthy opportunities based on the Healthy Places Index.”
ERAP will not cover residents living in either the city of San Diego or Chula Vista, as rental assistance programs are currently in place in both of those cities.
The Board of Supervisors created the program to assist San Diego County residents who have fallen behind on rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic following final allocation of $52.2 million from the state of California for emergency rental assistance and $48.8 million from the federal government for COVID-19 relief.
“We want to make sure this public health crisis does not leave San Diegans in debt or without a home,” said County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer in a press release. “If you are having trouble paying rent or utilities, we are here to help.”
Many San Diego County landlords told the Globe that the ERAP language allowing them to file would help them out considerably.
“We finally get something,” Miguel Cruz Jr., a landlord with properties in Carlsbad and Del Mar, explained to the Globe. “We have been screwed since last year by not being allowed to evict those who hadn’t paid rent. And we still can’t do that until the summer now. And not paying rent also cut in to the water bill which I include with rent but also can’t collect from them since it’s tied in the cost. If my tenants who qualify don’t apply, you can be sure that I am.”
“A lot of other landlords I know are really happy with this. Some tenants owe nearly a years worth of rent at this point, but because of their inability to pay being tied to the coronavirus, we can’t do anything. Now at least we’re getting our money back, or some of it.”
“It’s definitely a good start.”
Renters in the county can apply for ERAP beginning March 2nd at www.SDHCD.org.