San Mateo County is stepping in to help renters who do not qualify for rental assistance from the state’s rent relief program.
The county’s Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved $1 million of county funds to go toward rent relief for renters impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Supervisor Warren Slocum, who co-sponsored the item with Supervisor Don Horsley, said that before the pandemic, many households were already rent-burdened, meaning they spent 30 percent or more of their income on rent.
“Those same households, as we all know, have been those that have been most adversely affected by the pandemic, both in the health arena and the financial arena. And the rent burden for those folks continues to grow,” Slocum said.
Slocum said the county’s fund will help households that borrowed money to cover rent, or those that paid rent at the expense of other necessities, like food or medicine.
The county’s fund is also aimed to help households with sub-leases, described in a staff report as those who “may be renting a room from a primary tenant or be one of multiple households sharing a home to reduce living costs.”
The $1 million comes from the county’s general fund and will go towards the county’s Emergency Financial Assistance Program, which has existed since 2012 to help county residents in need.
Horsley said that the county’s core agencies have a much better system for assisting people, as they have been administering county assistance for years.
Applicants will have to meet certain criteria to qualify for the county’s rental assistance.
For example, applicants must be able to show why they were ineligible for state funding.
Households must also earn 60 percent or less of the Area Median Income or AMI to be eligible.
And they must be able to show how the pandemic has had a negative economic impact on them. This could be shown through evidence of credit card debt or evidence of reduced savings as a result of trying to cover rent.
Samaritan House, a local nonprofit and one of the county’s core agencies, will administer the fund for an administrative fee of $150,000, which will be paid in addition to the $1 million contribution.
The agreement with Samaritan House ends Dec. 31 or three months after the state’s emergency rental assistance program ends, which is also when any unused funds will be returned to the county.
On Monday night, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 832, which extends the statewide eviction moratorium to Sept. 30. The bill also allows qualifying tenants and landlords to apply to get 100 percent of past-due or future rent payments covered by the state’s rent relief program.
For more information, visit the county’s staff report at https://sanmateocounty.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=5008833&GUID=FF28EAEE-DADE-44EE-AF17-19FE09F7049B&FullText=1.
California’s Rent Relief Program is available at https://housing.ca.gov/covid_rr/index.html.