COVID-19 Resources for Homeowners and Renters



HOMEOWNERS AND RENTERS


Events: Workshops and Webinars

On October 15, 2020, ECHO Housing held a live webinar presentation for tenants and landlords of Contra Costa and Alameda Counties about tenant protections. To access this presentation, click here. For information about ECHO Housing, please visit www.echofairhousing.org.
CALIFORNIA COVID-19 RENT RELIEF AVAILABLE MARCH 15, 2021 
Rent Relief
The CA COVID-19 Rent Relief Program will help income-eligible El Cerrito tenants and landlords with unpaid rent and utilities dating back to April 1, 2020. The federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 provides funding to support the State program established through the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act. If you have experienced a financial hardship due to COVID‐19, have past due rent or utilities and your household income is not more than 80% of the area median income, you may be eligible to receive financial assistance from the State of California. Both landlords and tenants can verify eligibility and apply for assistance by visiting HousingIsKey.com, or by calling 833‐430‐2122.

Moratorium on evictions: city, county and state legislative actions

State of California: The COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act
In 2020, several new laws were established to assist households financially affected by COVID-19. On August 31, 2020, the Governor signed AB 3088: CA Tenant, Homeowner and Small Landlord Relief and Stabilization Act of 2020, a statewide eviction moratorium that applies to residential tenants and small property owners through January 31, 2021.Subsequently, SB 91 - COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act - took effect on February 1, 2021, which extended and expanded the protections in AB 3088. Both laws, AB 3088 and SB 91, protects tenants with a COVID related financial impact from eviction for nonpayment of rent, including set requirements for unpaid rent starting in March 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021. Additional action was taken by the Governor on June 28, 2021 through AB 832 – CA COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act – to extend AB 3088 and SB 91 through September 30, 2021 and includes some additional protections. It also protects tenants from "no cause" evictions, meaning an eviction where the landlord does not state a reason through October 1, 2021. There is information and links below to a variety of resources for both tenants and property owners available at www.housing.ca.gov.

As required by the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act, landlords are to provide various forms/notices depending on the rent payment period. Please visit https://housing.ca.gov/landlord/forms.html for more information.

Higher Income Tenants are households earning at least 130% of median income, as published by the Department of Housing & Community Development, may be required to provide documentation to support their declaration upon a landlord’s request. All household members, including minors, shall be considered in determining the household size.

Any unpaid rent between March 1, 2020 – August 31, 2020, is not grounds for eviction, but is still owed to the landlord. Beginning November 1, 2021, landlords can take tenants to small claims court to recover unpaid rent debt regardless of how much the tenant owes.

Any unpaid rent due between September 1, 2020, and September 30, 2021, is due unless the tenant is unable to pay due to COVID-19 hardship. In this case, tenants must provide the declaration of hardship to the landlord and pay an amount that equals at least 25% of the total rent by September 30, 2021, for rent that came due or will come due anytime during the period of September 1, 2020 – September 30, 2021 to avoid an unlawful detainer (eviction) action being filed against you on or after October 1, 2021.

REMEMBER: A declaration of hardship must be provided to the landlord if tenants are unable to pay any portion of the rent amount due and have decreased income or increased expenses due to COVID-19, tenants must sign and deliver the declaration of to the landlord to be covered under these protections. A blank form is available on the State’s website here.

Links to Resources

Additional forms, resources and guidelines can be accessed at Housing is Key by visiting www.housing.ca.gov.

To access AB 3088 and its full legal requirements, please visit the California Legislative Information website by clicking here.

County residents in need of housing counseling can reach out to the Contra Costa Housing Services Collaborative at no cost.

If you need additional information or have questions, please contact Aissia Ashoori, Housing Analyst, at aashoori@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us.

  • Contra Costa County Moratorium on Evictions and Rent Increases: On June 22, 2021, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed Urgency Ordinance No. 2021-20 that continues a temporary eviction moratorium for certain residential tenants and a moratorium on certain residential rent increases through September 30, 2021. The Urgency Ordinance also continues a temporary eviction moratorium for certain commercial tenants through September 30, 2021. Urgency Ordinance No. 2021-20 supersedes Ordinance No. 2021-11 and takes effect immediately. See Press Release (PDF) and Press Release Spanish (PDF): Contra Costa County Passes Ordinance to Extend Eviction Protection and Rent Freeze. See Urgency Ordinance No. 2021-20 (PDF) and Urgency Ordinance No. 2021-20 Spanish (PDF). Please visit the County’s website here for additional information.
  • City of El Cerrito Temporary Moratorium on Evictions: On March 25, 2020, the City Council joined other local cities in adopting an Urgency Ordinance enacting a temporary moratorium to halt evictions for residential and commercial tenants financially impacted by COVID-19. At this time, the Ordinance is set to expire upon the expiration of the City’s Local Emergency Declaration or the Governor’s Proclamation Of A State of Emergency, whichever is later. The Ordinance does not establish rent forgiveness but provides temporary rent forbearance to those who qualify by providing 6-months, from the Ordinance expiration date, to catch up on unpaid rent and suspends late fees from being charged for qualified residential and commercial tenants who can demonstrate loss of income or revenue due to COVID-19. For El Cerrito residents, the repayment period is set to begin once the City’s Local Emergency Declaration is terminated and tenants will have 6-months to repay past due rent. The City encourages tenants to notify their property owner/manager to discuss a repayment plan if you are experiencing loss of income from work, childcare costs related to school closures, healthcare costs related to COVID-19. Property owners also have expenses mounting and similar actions are being taken by the Federal Government and banking industry to provide mortgage and other relief.

Other Resources


Contra Costa County Allocates CARES Funds for Housing Aid

  • Shelter Inc. – COVID 19 Hotline for County Residents at 925-349-0571
The SHELTER, Inc. COVID-19 hotline serves community members affected by the COVID-19 virus. These dedicated emergency funds are for those who are impacted during these trying times. This program, an expansion of their eviction prevention hotline, assists families who have lost income, increased expenses for safety precautions, and are at risk of losing their housing. Available assistance: Payment of past due rent, payment of current month's rent, payment of future months' rent, payment of outstanding utility bills, funds for food and necessities, funds for short-term emergency housing, referrals to other services.

Are you a veteran? SHELTER, Inc.’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) provides housing subsidies for veterans in Contra Costa County. The SSVF can cover monthly rent payments for a period of 24-months. Please call 925.957.7592 for assistance.
  • Contra Costa Housing Services Collaborative: If you are a tenant, homeowner, or landlord in need of assistance, you are eligible to receive one-on-one counseling services through this County partnership. ECHO Housing has also received additional funding to assist with COVID-19 households in need of tenant/landlord counseling and related legal services for COVID-19-affected tenant households
  • Richmond Neighborhood Housing Services launched the COVID- 19 Rapid Response Fund-Share that provides support to single-family households with minor children and/or seniors, who can demonstrate a COVID-19 financial hardship and are at risk of losing utility services. Applications will be reviewed on a first-come/first-serve basis and awards will be based on family size. To apply, please email info@eastbaynhs.org. Click here to view and print the application.
  • Mortgage Payment Relief - some banks and mortgage companies are providing mortgage relief. Check with your mortgage company for details. Click here for details on how to apply for relief.
  • Contra Costa Crisis Center: The County’s 211 database provides a comprehensive, up-to-date, and free-of-charge database of local health and social services.
  • Catholic Charities, Housing Services in Contra Costa County: If you are at-risk of losing your current housing or need help to move to more stable housing, then Catholic Charities might be able to help you with eviction prevention services including back rent, utility assistance and security deposits. Please dial (925) 825-3099 or email housingservices@cceb.org to be screened for assistance.
  • Bay Area Legal Aid: Provides legal assistance to low-income County residents. Please contact their legal advice line at 800-551-5554.
  • Housing and Economic Rights Advocates: HERA is California statewide, not-for-profit legal service and advocacy organization dedicated to helping Californians. Their staff provides free legal services, consumer workshops, training for professionals and community organizing and engage in policy work locally, statewide and nationally.
  • The State of California Employment Development Department (EDD) may be able to provide income replacement for a variety of reasons during these difficult times. If you have been laid off, experienced a reduction in hours, sick/quarantined, caring for an ill/quarantined family member or your child’s school is closed you may be eligible for benefits. Governor Newsom recently waived the one-week unpaid waiting period and encourages those affected to file a claim as soon as possible to avoid a delay in benefits. Please visit the EDD website for more information: https://www.edd.ca.gov/about_edd/coronavirus-2019.htm
  • COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund-Share for Contra Costa County Residents

Utilities



CPUC extends utility shutdown moratorium for three months
In July 2021, a unanimous decision by the CPUC suspended disconnections of residential and small business customers for an additional three months, through Sept. 30, 2021.

This provides time for energy utilities to notify customers of a new CPUC solution to resolving COVID-19 era utility bill debt, which provides residential customers two years over which to pay off deferred energy bills, with help anticipated to become available in the California state budget. Similar relief was ordered for small businesses.

Retaining access to electricity and natural gas service remains critical to public health. Without the CPUC’s intervention, residential utility customers with energy utility bill arrearages would face balloon payments and risk losing their utility service if they fail to negotiate with their utility when the disconnection moratorium ends on June 30, 2021.

Under the decision, customers of the large investor-owned utilities with arrearages over 60 days old will automatically be enrolled in 24-month payment plans, with an opt-out for customers who do not want to be enrolled in the payment plans. Nothing prevents customers enrolled in payment plans from applying funding from relief programs.

More: https://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/Published/G000/M389/K401/389401945.PDF

Other Information



Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) and the Federal Home Loan Banks are taking steps to help people who have been impacted by the Coronavirus. Please visit the Federal Housing Financial Agency (FHFA) for more information about Mortgage Help for Homeowners Impacted by the Coronavirus – March 24, 2020.

If you need additional information or have questions, please contact Aissia Ashoori, Housing Analyst, at aashoori@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us.

The City also has a special webpage at www.el-cerrito.org/COVID19 which is a central clearinghouse for information related to City services and other resources related to the COVID-19 coronavirus. If you’d like to receive text or email updates about the City’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic, please visit el-cerrito.org/notifyme. Sign in to subscribe to “Alert Center” for "Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update.