COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program Frequently Asked Questions

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The County of Sonoma ERAP helps eligible households who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program provides payment assistance for renters or landlords who need help with rent and utilities. 

Individuals can submit an application starting April 19. 

  • Applicants must meet at least one of the two criteria below to be eligible for funding.
    • Income Eligibility: Households must be at or below 80 percent of Area Median Income (AMI) to be eligible for funding from both the direct federal allocation and the block grant award. Priority must be given to households at 50 percent of AMI or lower or households that have one or more individuals who have been unemployed for the preceding 90-day period at the date of application.
    • Loss of Income Criteria: Households where one or more household member is currently unemployed, and that member has been unemployed for 90 days or more, are also eligible for assistance.
    • Households are at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability.

You may submit an application online. If you do not have internet access and need assistance in completing an application, call 2-1-1 to be connected to a variety of organizations are available throughout the county to assist with the application process.

  • ERAP will prioritize payment assistance for renters behind on rent and utilities. Financial assistance for rent and utility debt can be from April 2020 to March 2021, up to 12 months. You can also apply for current and future rent, but the County will process these requests separately, at a future time and if funding is available. 
    • If my landlord agrees to participate in the program… 
      1. If the landlord agrees to participate in the program, you can receive 100 percent clearance of arrears accumulated from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021. Landlords who choose to participate are required to complete and sign an agreement to accept the 80 percent payment as payment in full of the rental debt owed by the tenant, which means the landlord forgives the remaining debt. The rental arrears will be paid directly to the landlord.
    • If my landlord does not agree to participate in the program… 
      1. The landlord does not have to participate in the program. If the landlord declines participation in the program, the County can only compensate 25 percent of the eligible household’s monthly rental arrears accumulated from April 2020 to March 2021. Payment of rental arrears can be paid directly to the tenant.
  • North Bay Organizing Project/Undocufund
  • Petaluma People Services Center
  • Reach for Home
  • La Luz
  • Catholic Charities
  • West County Community Services
  • River to Coast Children’s Services 
  • Community Action Partnership Sonoma County
  • California Parenting Institute
  • Face to Face/Sonoma County AIDS Network
  • Russian River Alliance

 It is optional to provide verifications at the time of application, however, it is highly encouraged that documents be provided with the application to ensure faster processing. If an application is selected for review, County staff will request any missing verifications.

All applicants will be notified if they have or have not been selected through email or mail (if an email was not provided). Application status can be checked online at any point.

A valid email address is required to submit an online application. If you do not have one, you can create one to complete the application. If you do not have an email address, you may contact 2-1-1 for a phone agent to assist you with the online application. The following are free email providers: 

    • Gmail 
    • Yahoo 
    • Microsoft Outlook
  • Step One: Create an account 
  • Step Two: Confirm your registered email address before you log in and complete your application. 

Please check your email and click on the link in the registration email message you received to confirm your registered email address.

  • If you cannot find the registration email that was sent to you, please check your junk or spam folder. 
  • If you still cannot find the registration email, click the “Resend Email Confirmation” link on the login page. 
  • Step Three: Log in and complete your online application.
    • If you successfully confirmed your email address, but still cannot log in, select the “Forgot your password?” link on the login page. Check your email and click on the link in the email message sent to you to open the webpage so you can create your new password to log in. 

 Only one application per residence will be permitted.

Households currently receiving rental subsidies, such as Section 8, rapid rehousing assistance, or rental assistance from non-profit agencies may apply. The household must certify that the ERAP assistance requested does not duplicate any other assistance, including federal, state, or local assistance provided for the same costs. Duplication of assistance is subject to County verification.

The County will serve individuals and families countywide. There is no wrong door. Any household can apply for assistance from any listed CBO.  

Yes, any eligible community member can apply regardless of immigration status. 

Yes, you should have your landlord’s name and phone number or email address at the application stage. 

No, you do not. A tenant is not required to pay back the subsidy, it is a grant.

No. The program only assists eligible applicants with housing rental assistance, not commercial rent.

Yes, the program will assist eligible mobile homeowners with space rent. 

Yes. Landlords may apply on behalf of the tenant, but the tenant will be required to co-sign. Co-sign can be done directly by the tenant through the application portal or by written communications (including electronic) from the tenant acknowledging the application provided by the landlord.

If you have received assistance through a previous program, either through the County or another city, you can still apply to this program. Applicants will be able to apply for any outstanding arrears from the period allowed (April 2020 to March 2021). Any arrears already cleared/covered by previous programs would not be allowable.

  • Applicants must submit:
    • Copy of a Photo ID.
      1. If the photo ID does not reflect the current address, then the applicant must provide a copy of the Photo ID with a utility bill or lease that reflects your name and current address (address on application).
  • Verification that reflects housing instability or at risk of experiencing homelessness such as, past due utility bill, rental bill or eviction notice.
  • Income verification such as pay stubs for all household members working, unemployment verification, CalWORKs benefit letter, etc. should reflect a date no earlier than February 1, 2021. SSI/SSA benefit letters from January 1, 2021, will be accepted.

Applications will be prioritized for review based on several factors. Depending on where your application falls within the priority categories, it may take 2-4 weeks or longer from when you applied for the CBO to make initial contact with you. Applicants are able to check their status on the online portal where they applied and will receive correspondence through the entire process from the CBO.

  • Household income at or below 50% Area Median Income (AMI)
  • One or more household members are unemployed as of the date of the application for assistance and have not been employed for 90 days from the date of application (household income must not be above 80% AMI) 

The County has included the following as local prioritizations:

  • Single-parent households 
  • Health Equity (using the lowest two quartiles of the Healthy Places Index or HPI to prioritize)- Residents who live in areas that have less access to healthy opportunities

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