The Sacramento Emergency Rental Assistance Program (SERA2) is aimed at helping low-income renters in the city and county who have been impacted by the pandemic to catch up on past-due rent and utility payments.
“This is exactly the same [as it was for applicants in February]. All we’re doing is we’re trying to open up the application process and continue to get applications while we are processing the applications from February and March,” Deputy Executive Director at SHRA Sarah O’Daniel said.
Residents may even be eligible for assistance on prospective rent for the months of April, May and June 2021, O’Daniel said. The application period begins on Tuesday, May 11.
“The good news is there is no deadline right now. It is going to be continuously open so that we can get as many applications as possible. So people do not have to rush and try and stay up late and apply at 12:01 a.m. They can apply anytime,” O'Daniel said.
Landlords can apply for assistance on behalf of their tenants and tenants may also apply on their own behalf.
Eligible residents must have an income at or below 80% of the median income for the area. Residents who have been unemployed for 90 or more days, or who are at or below 50% of the median income, will be given priority. You must also be renting in the city or county of Sacramento in order to be eligible.
“We do prioritize rental arrears and we also prioritize families that earn 50% or area median income or less. So, for a family of one, they can’t earn more than $31,750 or for a family of five they can’t earn more than $48,950,” O’Daniel explained.
All applicants must “have at least one household member that is qualified for unemployment benefits OR has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or has experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19.” Applicants must also “demonstrate housing instability or a risk of being unhoused,” officials said.
Those who applied for the SERA1 program from 2020 can apply again. However, if you applied in February or March 2021 and are still waiting to hear back, O'Daniel says to sit tight.
"For families that applied in February and March, if they haven't heard back that means we're still processing their application so they don't need to apply again because then that would be a duplicate application," O'Daniel said.
She also recommends prospective applicants have all necessary documents ready and upload them because the agency can then process applications faster. There are also organizations on the SHRA website that can help families complete their applications. Bilingual staff is also available to help families.
The City of Sacramento was awarded $31.6 million for emergency rent assistance from the US Treasury and California Senate Bill 91, the “Tenant Relief Act.”
Sacramento County will also apply a total federal and state allocation of $64 million in emergency rental assistance to the SERA2 Program. All funds must be spent by the end of the year, according to federal and state guidelines.
As for the $5.2 Billion toward rent relief announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Monday, from the state's budget surplus, O'Daniel says it's too early to know what impact it will have.
“It’s great to see an additional infusion of dollars into the program to help our families in terms of utilities and arrears, but a little premature for us to know the details and how it might vary from the current program,” she said.
An additional $21+ billion in funds coming down from the federal government as part of the American Rescue Plan could ensure future rental assistance programs in Sacramento County as well.
"We anticipate that there will be additional funds coming down for rental assistance in the near future," O'Daniel said.