COVID Rent Relief & Financial Assistance

SB91 uses the money allocated to California from the federal government as part of the recent federal stimulus bill to create a new rental assistance program. This financial assistance program is designed to help low-income tenants through the payment of unpaid rent to landlords. The funds will be awarded in three rounds that prioritize lowest-income households: 
  1. Renters who make less than 50% of the Area Median Income  
  2. Communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19  
  3. Remaining eligible tenants making less than 80% of Area Median Income  
To determine what the Area Median Income is in your area, click on this guide from the Department of Housing & Community Development.
The State of California COVID-19 rent relief call center is available to get help answering eligibility questions for application assistance and to provide information on local assistance in multiple languages. You can call the center at 1-833-430-2122, between 7am - 7pm. 
  • Types of rent relief & financial assistance awarded
  • How do I know I'm eligible for rent relief?
  • What do I need to submit to prove I'm eligible for rent relief?
  • State resources for tenants applying for rent relief
  • Cities, counties and tribes distributing direct rent relief
  • Utility assistance


Types of rent relief & financial assistance awarded  

The rental assistance application is available at this State of California online portal. Either or both you or your landlord can apply for rent relief. If you can, we encourage you to work with your landlord so you can receive the highest amount of rental assistance.
Here is the financial assistance you can get for your COVID rent debt, beginning April 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021: 
  • Up to 80% rent assistance paid directly to your landlord, if they agree to participate in the state’s financial assistance program AND waive the remaining 20% of the debt you owe. Your landlord must waive the remaining 20% of your debt if they receive assistance!
  • Up to 25% rent assistance paid directly to the landlord if they refuse to participate in the state program. In this case, you will have to pay your landlord the remaining 75% eventually, but you cannot be evicted over this debt. Beginning in August, landlords can try to collect this remaining debt from you in small claims court.
  • Your landlord's ability to sue you for the remaining money is limited if they refuse to participate, you met the eligibility requirements, and funding was available.
Any funds remaining in the rent relief program may provide funding for up to 25% payment of your future rental payments beginning April 1st, 2021 through June 30th, 2021.
When you apply for rent relief, the program will attempt to contact your landlord by phone and email over a 10-day period to request their participation.  
  • Tenant applies --> Landlord notified --> Landlord participates --> Upgrades your eligibility to participate in 80/20 deal (pending application approval) 
  • Tenant applies --> Landlord notified --> Landlord refuses --> You are eligible for the 25% deal (pending application approval) 
Landlords can also initiate the application for financial assistance for one or more eligible tenants with unpaid COVID rent debt from between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021.
  • Landlord applies --> Tenant notified by email --> Case Manager works with Landlord/Tenant --> Both parties complete application --> 80% rent debt paid in relief money directly to landlord, and remaining 20% of tenant rent debt waived by landlord  


How do I know I'm eligible?

As a renter, you must meet all three of the following criteria:  
  1. You have qualified for unemployment benefits OR experienced a reduction in household income, accrued significant costs, OR experienced other financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to the COVID-19 pandemic, and you are able to attest this in writing.
  2. You can demonstrate housing instability. Examples of housing instability include: a past due utility or rent notice or eviction notice, risk of experiencing homelessness, unsafe or unhealthy living conditions, or any other evidence of these risks
  3. You have a household income that is not more than 80% of your Area Median Income (AMI) for the household.
Landlords invited or participating with tenants in applying for rent relief will also be required to meet ALL the following criteria: 
  1. Be the property owner or the property management/agency who has legal authority to lease the unit
  2. Have one or more eligible tenants with unpaid rent between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021 due to COVID-19 hardship 
  3. Have a rent statement or ledger, or a tenant lease, or a written and/or oral agreement with the eligible renter(s) 
  4. If the written lease or oral agreement is expired or will expire during the period that the rent relief program will cover, your landlord MUST extend the terms of your prior lease at least through the end of the final month which a rent assistance payment is made. (If you lost your lease or it has expired, you can certify the details of your tenancy using a Tenants Together sample letter.)
  5. Agree to permanently waive 20% of the unpaid rent for the above time period

What do I need to submit to prove I'm eligible?

1. Contact information for your landlord  
  • Landlord/entity name  
  • Landlord address  
  • Landlord phone number  
  • Landlord email  
2. Verify your identity (need one of the following)
NOTE: You will not be asked about your citizenship status, nor will you be required to show proof of citizenship.
  • Government issued birth certificate, driver’s licensce, or identification card  
  • Employment identification card  
  • Marriage licenses/certificate or certified divorce decree  
  • Current school records documenting a student’s status as full-time at a degree or certificate granting institution. (only for renters 18 years or older)  
3. Verify your income (need one of the following)
  • IRS Tax Forms  
  • W-2 Form  
  • Recent paycheck stubs  
  • Employer-generated salary report  
  • Earnings statement  
  • Current bank account  
4. Verify your residence (need one of the following) 
  • Lease or written agreement   
  • Official letter from third party showing name and address  
  • Government issued library card  
  • Utility statements from providers  
  • State issued program ID or license (must show address)  
5. Verify rent owed (need one of the following) 
  • A current lease signed with the rental payment amount  
  • If you don't have a lease, proof of your rent amount may include a bank statement or written confirmation by your landlord  
6. Verify utility payments owed/due if you're applying for utility relief
  • Utility bill showing past or current amount due
If you or your household already receives public assistance, you can streamline the application process and get relief faster, by providing proof of participation in any of the following programs with a date after January 1st, 2020:
  • Medicaid, known as Medi-Cal in CA 
  • Women, Infants and Children (WIC) benefits  
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known as CalFresh in CA  
  • Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)  
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), known as CalWorks in CA 
  • School Nutrition Programs (SNP), such as Free & Reduced Lunch program for CA families 
  • Subsidized housing (including housing choice, project passed, or Section 8 vouchers) that required income documentation as a condition of residency 
  • Any household income-based state or federally funded assistance program for low-income persons or households  
  • Any locally operated assistance program for low-income persons or households that requires household income  

State resources for tenants applying for rent relief 

Tenants eligible for financial assistance of COVID-19 rent debt and who are completing the application for state program can on the same form apply to receive assistance for unpaid utilities and future payments. Unpaid utilities accumulated from April 1st 2020 through March 31, 2021 will be compensated at 100% of cost, limited to a total of 12 months. For applications received, the state will first review and commit funds to applicants who are eligible and meet the priority requirement having income at or below 50% of Area Median Income (AMI) to ensure those most in need receive assistance. 

Utility assistance

Utility assistance is available from the state for: 
  • Water 
  • Gas/Propane 
  • Trash 
  • Sewer 
  • Electric 
  • Internet  
  • Other Utility   
Tenants requesting utility assistance are required to provide utility statements that include:
  • Company name 
  • Company address 
  • Account number 


Cities, counties, and tribes distributing direct rent relief

Some cities/counties/tribes are distributing funds directly to their communities. Both tenants and landlords can apply directly with their local government agencies: 
  • Anaheim 
  • Bakersfield 
  • Chula Vista 
  • Fremont 
  • Fresno 
  • Irvine 
  • Long Beach 
  • Los Angeles 
  • Modesto 
  • Sacramento 
  • San Diego 
  • Stockton 
  • Alameda County 
  • Fresno County 
  • Kern County 
  • Marin County 
  • Monterey County 
  • Sacramento County 
  • San Diego County 
  • San Joaquin County 
  • Sonoma County 
  • Stanislaus County 
  • Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation, Wilton Rancheria, North Fork, Rancheria Indian Housing Authority, Resighini Rancheria 
  • Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria 
  • Yurok Indian Housing Authority 
  • Susanville Indian Rancheria Housing Authority 
  • Kashia Band of Pomo Indians 
  • Enterprise Rancheria Indian Housing Authority 
  • Redwood Valley Litle River Band of Pomo Indians 
  • Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians 
  • Cedarville Rancheria 
  • Shingle Springs Rancheria 
  • Bridgeport Indian Colony 
  • Quechan Tribally Designated Housing Entity 
  • Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians 
  • Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians 
  • All Mission Indian Housing Authority 
  • Elem Indian Colony Sulphur Bank Rancheria 
  • Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians 
  • Pit River Tribe 
  • Robinson Rancheria of Pomo Indians of California 
  • Ramona Band of Cahuilla 
  • Ione Band of Miwok Indians 
  • Hoopa Valley Housing Authority 
  • Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians 
  • Campo Band of Mission Indians 
  • Tule River Indian Housing Authority 
  • Pala Band of Mission Indians 
  • Fort Bidwell Indian Community 
  • Quartz Valley Indian Reservation 
  • Chemehuevi Indian Tribe 
  • Bishop Paiute Tribe 
  • Northern Circle Indian Housing Authority 
  • Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians 
  • San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians 
  • Greenville Rancheria 
  • Karuk Tribe Housing Authority (TDHE, Karuk Tribe) 
  • Pinoleville Pomo Nation 
  • Big Pine Paiute Tribe of the Owens Valley 
  • Elk Valley Rancheria California 
  • Wiyot Tribe 
  • Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians 
  • The Tejon Indian Tribe 
  • Modoc Lassen Indian Housing Authority 
  • Big Sandy Rancheria Band of Western Mono Indians 
  • Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians 
  • Timbisha Shoshone Tribe 
  • Round Valley Indian Housing Authority 
  • Lone Pine Paiute Shoshone Tribe 
  • Fort Independence Indian Community of Paiute Indians 


Help build power for renters' rights: