Low-income residents of Stanislaus County who are struggling with paying rents and utility payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic can receive taxpayer-funded assistance through a local Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).
“This provides a wonderful opportunity for some of our Ceres residents to get assistance as a result of being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ceres City Manager Tom Westbrook.
Stanislaus County, the City of Modesto, and the Stanislaus Regional Housing Authority have partnered to implement ERAP which is funded by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the state of California. The ERAP will assist households unable to pay rental and utility arrears accrued due to the COVID-19 pandemic between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021.
Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 on Dec. 21, to allocate $25 billion for local ERAPs to assist households unable to pay rent and utilities. Funds were sent directly to states, territories, local governments and Indian tribes. The U.S. Treasury issued approximately $1.1 billion to California jurisdictions with a population of 200,000 or more and an additional $1.5 billion to the state.
Stanislaus County and the city of Modesto received a total of approximately $16.4 million from the federal government and $19.5 million from the state to assist eligible residents who can demonstrate need and anticipate receiving a combined. The grand total available for Stanislaus County residents is approximately $35.9 million.
ERAP defines an eligible household as a renter household in which at least one or more individuals meet the following criteria:
• Has a household income at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), which is the unadjusted median income levels derived from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on an annual basis for each jurisdiction adjusted solely for household size;
• Qualifies for unemployment or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19;
• Demonstrates a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability.
During the first 60 days, funding will be focused on eligible households at or below 50 percent of Area Median Income, or those households who have been unemployed the 90 days prior to application. After the first 60 days, resources will be focused on household at or below 80 percent of AMI.
Phase 1 of the ERAP will provide payment of all rental and utility arrears owed by an eligible household. Once the $16.4 million in federal funds have been exhausted, the second phase will kick in the spending of $19.5 million in state funding to provide payment of 80 percent of rental and utility arrears owed by a household.
The ERAP will be facilitated locally through a collaborative effort among Stanislaus County, the City of Modesto, the Stanislaus Regional Housing Authority, United Way of Stanislaus County and four local credit unions: Self-Help Credit Union, Modesto First Federal Credit Union, Organized Labor Credit Union and Rolling F Credit Union.
United Way’s 211 call center will assist the public in answering questions about the program and how to apply. Credit Unions and mobile outreach teams will serve as community intake locations and offer additional assistance to households and will assist with entry of information into the online portal, if needed.
For program information or to apply, visit www.stanrentassist.com, or call 1-877-211-7826 or dial 2-1-1 to ask about the Emergency Rental Assistance Program.