For Immediate Release
County’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program designates nearly $40 million in relief funds, pauses program temporarily
Santa Rosa,CA | February 14, 2022
Nearly $25 million in direct assistance has been provided to more than 2,100 Sonoma County households through Sonoma County’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program, county officials announced today. In addition, more than 4,000 pending and completed applications are in the queue and are predicted to draw down the remainder of the nearly $40 million in rental assistance funds assigned to Sonoma County.
As a result, Sonoma County as of February 11, will put a pause on accepting any new applications for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which is funded by the State of California and the federal government. The pause is necessary to try to ensure that all of those with completed applications that are in the queue will receive the funds they requested. If more funds are needed, the County may seek to claim a share of funds reallocated from other jurisdictions should the state or federal government announce a reallocation. If funds are reallocated to the County of Sonoma, the program will resume assistance as the new funding allows.
A total of $39,886,379 million is expected to have been distributed by the conclusion of the program pause in Sonoma County.
“The pause will allow our community-based partners and staff to navigate through the remaining applications,” said James Gore, Chair of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. “For ten months we have been able to provide millions in rental relief and seek to ensure the pending applications are funded as requested.”
The program has provided integral rental assistance to keep community members housed since its inception on April 19, 2021. The program has assisted 2,154 households and projects to assist an additional 4,000 applications as funding permits. Applications already submitted will still be reviewed and processed. Assistance will be granted using the same area median income scale to determine priority.
The program successfully assisted the most vulnerable populations in Sonoma County, as 54.83% of the awarded funds went to individuals making under 30% of the area’s median income and 26.46% went to those making under 50% of the median income. In order for an individual to have qualified for the program, they would need to make below 80% of the median income. (Sonoma County’s median annual income is $90,900 for a family of four).
At the start of the program, the average award from April 2021 to November 2021 was $10,304. and has gradually declined since then. From November 2021 through December 2021 it was $9,157 and from January 2022 through February 2022, it was $7,009. Emergency rental assistance programs across the state and country are slowing down, and some have completely ceased operations as applications have slowed and funds have been fully allocated.
The program provided payment assistance for tenants who were behind on rent and utilities and was open to all county residents, regardless of immigration status, who are renters or landlords. Funds covered 100% of past due rent, and, in some cases, upcoming rent.
“This program has been essential in helping Sonoma County residents survive the pandemic,” said Sheryl Bratton, County Administrator. “We appreciate our community-based partners who helped get rental assistance out, and we all share the hope that we’ll secure additional funds to ensure that all persons in need receive the assistance they need.”
Applications submitted before the pause date will be reviewed and awarded as funding permits. As of October 1, 2021 renters who have submitted a complete application are protected from being evicted for non-payment of rental debt incurred between October 1, 2021, and March 30, 2022, until a decision has been made or the tenant has failed to complete their section.
For more information please visit SoCoEmergency.org/ERAP