[COLUMN] Ask Gustavo: What you need to know about getting help paying rent in California

By Gustavo F. Velasquez, Director, California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD)

What is the CA COVID-19 Rent Relief program?

The CA COVID-19 Rent Relief program offers financial assistance to income eligible households who have been impacted by COVID-19 and need help with unpaid rent and utilities. The program supports eligible renters and their landlords by providing financial assistance for rent and utility bills to prevent housing instability and potential eviction. The program covers 100% of unpaid rent and utilities for income-eligible applicants and will protect renters from eviction through September 30, 2021.

Where can I get information and apply for rent or utility relief?

For more information, please visit HousingIsKey.com or call the CA COVID-19 Rent Relief Call Center at 833- 430-2122 toll free.

I’m a renter and I need help. How do I know if I’m eligible?

Visit HousingIsKey.com to start a new application. You’ll find out if you are eligible for a local program near you, or the state program.  If you’re a renter, someone in your house must meet the following for you to apply:

  • Have been impacted by COVID-19
  • Be income eligible (the state will calculate this for you when you apply)
  • Have unpaid rent or utilities, or need help with future rent or utilities.

What type of utilities can I get help paying?

Eligible renters can receive assistance for utility bills, dating back to April 1, 2020. You can get up to 100% of up to 12 months of payments, and the money will go to your utility company directly. You can get help paying electricity, gas, water and sewer, trash removal, and energy costs, such as fuel oil. Internet and phone services are also eligible utility costs.

If I apply for help with paying my utilities, what do I need to provide?

All payments for utilities and home energy costs should be supported by a bill, invoice, or evidence of payment to the provider of the utility or home energy service. Utilities and home energy costs that are covered by the landlord will be treated as rent.

I’m undocumented.  Can I still get help with my rent?

Yes. Applicants may qualify for financial assistance regardless of immigration status and will not be required to show proof of citizenship. Your information will be kept private.

When will the program stop accepting applications?

There is no end date on applications. The state will continue to accept application for the CA COVID-19 Rent Relief program until funds run out.

I don’t have a printer or scanner so I can’t upload the paperwork to apply. How can I get help?

There are community organizations throughout the state that are assisting applicants in a variety of ways. They can help you understand the program, check to see if you are eligible, provide assistance in multiple languages, help you fill out your application, and upload required paperwork. To schedule an appointment for assistance with an organization near you, call 833-687-0967.

Can I still apply for the program if my landlord won’t cooperate?

If your landlord chooses not to participate in the program, you may still be eligible to apply on your own and receive financial assistance for 100% of your unpaid rent or utilities dating back to April 1, 2020. To check your eligibility and apply, visit HousingisKey.com or call 833-430-212.

Is the application process hard?

No! The application has been simplified and now has fewer questions and takes much less time to complete. You only have to upload a few documents (as few as one, depending on your circumstances) and there are now a variety of helpful “pop-up” tips throughout the application to help you understand exactly what you need to do to successfully apply.

I’m a landlord with tenants who are behind on rent payments, what are my options?

If you’re a property owner or landlord with one or more eligible renters who have unpaid rent accrued, you may be eligible to apply for financial assistance from the CA COVID-19 Rent Relief program.

The program covers 100% of unpaid rent and utilities. Applicants only need to provide contact information, proof of ownership and rent owed, as well as basic tenant contact information.

To check your eligibility and apply, visit HousingisKey.com or call 833-430-2122.

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.


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