Feds Provide Rental Help

Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft
City of Alameda - Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft

Feds Provide Rental Help

Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft

Good news for Alameda tenants and landlords! The U.S. Supreme Court recently ended the pandemic-related federal moratorium on residential evictions issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in September 2020 to slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent homelessness.

However, Alameda renters can’t be evicted for non-payment of rent owed through Sept.30, if they’ve submitted a financial distress declaration to their landlords and paid 25% of rent owed since September 2020.

On Oct. 1, Alameda residential tenants must resume regular rent payments, but fortunately, rental assistance funding is available for income-eligible households and their landlords from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) and the State of California.

Alameda County administers these funds through the Alameda County Housing Secure Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ACHS-ERAP) which is accepting applications now.

These funds help income-eligible households pay rent (up to 12 months of past due rent, and up to 3 months of future rent) and utilities. Rent payments are distributed directly to landlords.

Tenants are encouraged to apply, but alternatively, landlords may apply on behalf of tenants who need assistance applying for funds. You may apply for ACHS-ERAP funds even if you received funds from the City of Alameda’s Emergency Rent Relief Program.

You’re eligible to apply one or more individuals in your household

 Are residential tenants Alameda County

 Have qualified for unemployment benefits or experienced financial hardship due COVID–19,

 Can show a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability

 Have a combined household income that is not more than 80 percent of the Bay Area median income: $76,750 for one-person household; $87,700 for a two-person household; $98,650 for a three-person household; $109,600 for a four-person household). The combined household includes anyone who shares a rental obligation for the unit.

To help streamline the application process and accelerate distribution of ERAP funds, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen recently issued this guidance:

 Self-attestation can be used by tenants to demonstrate financial hardship, income, and risk of homelessness or housing instability.

 Tenants without any documentation proving income can use self-attestation alone in ERAP applications, as long as the public health emergency continues. ERAP payments can be used to cover court fees or other payments that tenants face in appealing evictions.

Since March 2021 when ACHS-ERAP began, 68 Alameda households have been awarded a total of $1,210,427 in rental assistance funding. Don’t risk housing instability or homelessness. If you think you may qualify for assistance, apply today.

You’ll find information about ACHS-ERAP guidelines and an application here: www.ac-housingsecure.org. If you need help accessing or completing an application, call 2-1-1 for Eden Information & Referral.

A success story. Last week I visited Corsair Flats at Alameda Point, a new development that sits across the street from its namesake Vietnam War-era aircraft and contains 60 light-filled apartments for low-income seniors. Twenty-eight of these apartments were allocated to formerly homeless veterans, some of whom had lived on the streets for 10 years.

An onsite residential manager, the Veterans Administration, and other agencies provide counseling and resources to assist residents and assure a successful transition for individuals exiting homelessness.

Use of the computer lab, activity room and community gathering space is currently limited due to COVID-19, but the community garden is open, thriving, and popular with all the residents. How fitting that a former military base now houses formerly overlooked veterans, and other low-income seniors in this attractive, inviting setting.

Don’t risk housing instability or homelessness. If you think you may qualify for assistance, apply for funding today.

Alameda needs more innovative housing opportunities like Corsair Flats and the future Wellness Center on McKay Avenue to address homelessness.

COVID-19 caution. The highly contagious Delta variant continues to spread in our communities, so please continue to protect yourself and others by getting vaccinated and wearing a mask when you’re indoors in public places.

While almost 80 percent of Alameda residents 12 years and older are now fully vaccinated, and more than 92 percent have received their first dose, children under 12 aren’t yet eligible to be vaccinated. (Alameda County Public Health, 8/30/21) Let’s keep our kids safe from COVID-19!

If you’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms including fever, headache, cough, sore throat, or runny nose, or may have been exposed to someone with COVID, get tested.

Find testing locations here: www.alamedaca.gov/gettested. Vaccine appointments are available every day, with or without an appointment. Find vaccine appointments at www.alamedaca.gov/getvaccinated.

Don’t forget to vote. There’s an important gubernatorial election this month. Return your ballot at a dropbox, by mail (no postage required), or in person between Saturday, Sept. 11 and Tuesday, Sept. 14.

Find information about the election here: www.alamedaca.gov/2021elections. Your vote is your voice; make it heard!

Stay housed. Stay safe. Stay Alameda Strong. And vote!

Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft is the mayor of Alameda.