Rental Assistance FAQs

Eligibility

Is Monterey County Rental Assistance Program open to all residents regardless of their citizenship status?
You are eligible to apply for the Monterey County Rental Assistance Program, regardless of citizenship status. The application process does not ask questions related to your citizenship or legal status.

Who is eligible to apply? 
In order to be eligible for the Monterey County Rental Assistance Program, you must be a Monterey County resident. You must also be a renter, fall within the income limit (below 80% area median income (AMI)), have qualified for unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship due to COVID-19; and demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability.

How old do I have to be to apply?
You must Be 18 Years of Age to apply

What if I am related to my landlord or I am renting from someone in my family? Am I still eligible for the program?
Yes, you can still apply for the program. As long as your landlord (family member) can provide documentation showing property ownership and/or a lease agreement with you listed as the tenant, you are eligible to apply. The additional documentation for the program would be required as well (which can be found below in the "Application" Section.) 

I received Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) or last year's CARES program, can I still apply for the Monterey County Rental Assistance Program?
Yes. If you received assistance through the County CARES program last year, Catholic Charities' Hope in Home program, or through EFSP, you can still qualify.

If I have received or applied for HEAP/REACH/ LIHEAP assistance, Can I still apply for the Monterey County Rental Assistance Program?
Yes.

Will this affect public charge? 
No. Receiving assistance from this program will not impact your visa/citizenship status. 

Can I qualify even if I didn't lose my job?
Yes.  Renters can qualify as long as they have suffered COVID-19-related financial distress that caused them to be unable to pay their rent between the dates of April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021.

What does a "COVID-19-related financial distress" mean? 
COVID-19-related financial distress can include any of the following:

  1. Loss of income caused by the COVID-19 pandemic
  2. Increased out-of-pocket expenses directly related to performing essential work during the COVID-19 pandemic
  3. Increased expenses directly related to the health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
  4. Childcare responsibilities or responsibilities to care for an elderly, disabled, or sick family member directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic that limits the tenant's ability to earn income or increased costs of these responsibilities
  5. Other circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic that have reduced a tenant's income or increased a tenant's expenses. 

What if I lost my job PRIOR to the pandemic (March 13, 2020) and have been unable to find a job because of Covid's effect on the economy?
You still might be eligible to apply. You would need to show you have suffered a COVID-19-related financial distress that contributed to your inability to pay your rent and utilities. This could be shown through a COVID-19-related hardship declaration filed with your landlord, citing an inability to pay rent; Back due rent/notice-to-pay/eviction notices; An unemployment award letter; Bank statements reflecting salary or reduction in salary; A letter from your employer reflecting a decrease in hours, income, or layoff; or a Self-declaration statement, if other documents cannot be produced. If you are unsure about your eligibility, please contact 211 for additional assistance. 

I have to qualify based on my income. How is my Area Median Income (AMI) calculated? 
Your income should be based on your most recent monthly income. It is also calculated based on your household size. A current AMI table is available on the United Way Monterey County ERAP page.

If I live in a mobile home, can I qualify for rental assistance? 
Yes. Rental payments for either the manufactured home and/or the parcel of land the manufactured home occupies are eligible for financial assistance under the program. Households renting manufactured housing and/or the parcel of land the manufactured home occupies may also receive assistance for utilities and other expenses related to housing. 

Can a Homeowner receive assistance for their Home Mortgage or utilities?
No, the Monterey County Rental Assistance Program can only assist RENTERS with past due rent and utility bills. For information on mortgage assistance, visit the State of California Housing Website for more information. 

Am I eligible to apply if I sublease and was unable to pay rent because of a COVID-related hardship?
Potentially. If you are subleasing a room from the primary tenant, if you were unable to pay the rent to the primary tenant because of a COVID-related hardship, and the primary tenant did not pay the full amount of rent to the landlord (did not cover your amount due), then either you or the primary tenant could be eligible to apply for the Monterey County Rental Assistance Program. However, if the primary tenant covered your rental portion and does not owe past-due rent, neither you nor the primary tenant would be eligible to apply for the program. Unfortunately, we are only allowed to pay landlords and property owners for past rent due. It is possible that you or the primary tenant would be eligible for prospective (future) rent payments if you or the primary tenant is still experiencing a COVID-hardship that is affecting your ability to pay rent and/or utility bills. If you are unsure of whether you would be eligible to receive rental and/or utility assistance, call 211 and talk to a Call Specialist. 

I don't have any back rent due, but I am needing assistance for future months' rent. Do I qualify for the Monterey County Rental Assistance Program? 
Yes, however, we are currently prioritizing tenants that have outstanding back rent due. You can apply for rental and/or utility assistance for prospective (future) months, even if you do not have any outstanding back rent due. Contact 211 or apply through the ERAP page to see if you are eligible for the program. If eligible, you could be provided up to three months of prospective rent and/or utilities paid for the months between April 1, 2021 and December 31, 2021. 

I have a Section-8 voucher, but am struggling to pay my portion of the rent. Am I eligible for the Monterey County Rental Assistance Program? 
Households that receive housing assistance from vouchers, whether those are Housing choice vouchers, project-based vouchers, or other Section-8 vouchers, and who have experienced a loss of income should recertify their income with the Monterey County Housing Authority  to ensure housing costs continue to be covered. Households receiving housing choice or Section 8 housing vouchers who are not able to recertify income and have unpaid back rent are eligible for assistance. Households that have recertified income and do not have unpaid back rent are not eligible for assistance. If an eligible household receives a monthly federal subsidy (Housing Choice Voucher, Public Housing, or Project-based rental assistance) and the tenant rent is adjusted according to changes in income, the renter household may receive Monterey County Rental Assistance for the tenant-owned portion of rent or utilities that is not subsidized.

I was told that I was ineligible for the program, but I believe that I am eligible. Who should I reach out to?
If you would like to appeal your eligibility status, please fill out this form to let a United Way staff member know.

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Application

How do I apply to see if I am eligible to receive rent and/or utility assistance? 
Before you apply, make sure you have submitted a signed declaration of Covid-19-related financial distress to your landlord or property manager. You can find a blank declaration form here. There are three ways in which you can apply for rent and/or utility assistance:

  1. Call 211 and speak with a trained Call Specialist. The 211 Call Specialist will ask you questions to determine your eligibility and will refer you to the appropriate agency to complete the application process.
  2. Apply through our ERAP web page. Click on the button at the top of the page and it will redirect you to the Monterey County Rental Assistance Program page, where you will answer questions to determine your eligibility for the program. Once you have answered the questions, you will be referred to a local agency to complete your application process.
  3. You can apply through one of our participating agencies that is working with local renters to determine eligibility for the Rental Assistance program and will assist you in completing your application. The participating agencies are located at the bottom of the ERAP page.
    *It is important that you contact the agency that is serving your community. If you live in a community that is represented in the agencies, you would contact them (for example, if you live in the city of Salinas, you would contact the City of Salinas). If you live in a city that is not represented by an agency or you live in unincorporated Monterey County, there are three agencies that are assisting renters county-wide: Goodwill Central Coast, Salvation Army, and Central Coast Energy Services. If you are unsure which agency to contact, please call 211 for assistance or fill out the online application. 

Are all occupants on the lease required to apply or just one member of the household?
Only one member needs to apply.

Which utilities are eligible for assistance?
Water, sewer, gas, electric, waste disposal, and internet (not bundled service). Past due utility bills are paid directly to the utility company, unless the utilities are part of the tenant's rent, in which past due utilities would be paid to the landlord.

What if my landlord pays my utilities as part of my rent--am I eligible for utility assistance? 
Yes. If you are behind on your utility payments because of a COVID-related hardship and you have a household income that is below 80% AMI, you would be eligible for utility assistance. Your landlord would need to provide documentation of unpaid utility bills and the program would pay the landlord directly on your behalf. You can apply for utility assistance by calling 211, filling out an eligibility form on the ERAP page, or by contacting one of the local agencies administering the program. 

How many payments can I receive for Rent and/or Utility?
The maximum each applicant can receive is 15 months rent and utility assistance:

  • 12 months of past-due rent assistance that was due between April 1, 2020 and present day, paid at 100% to the landlord, and 3-months pf prospective (future) rent, between the present day and December 31, 2021,paid at 100%. 
  • 12 months of past-due utility bills that were due between April 1, 2020 and present day, paid at 100% to the utility company, and 3 months of prospective (future) utility bills, between the present day and December 31, 2021, paid at 100%. 

What documents do I need to submit? 

  • Copy of your photo ID (One of the following)
    • Current Driver's License with photograph (from the U.S. or any of its territories)
    • Non-Driver's Identification Card with photograph (from the U.S. or any of its territories)
    • Passport
    • Identification from County of Origin with photograph (non-U.S.)
    • U.S. Permanent Resident Card
    • U.S. Certificate of Naturalization (good for 10 years after date of issue)
    • Learner Permit with photograph (from the U.S. or any of its territories)
    • Work Identification with photograph
  • Income Documentation (One of the following)
    • Pay Stub(s) (minimum 30 days)
    • Unemployment award letter
    • W-2
    • Bank Statement (reflecting salary or reduction in salary)
    • Letter from employer (reflecting income level, decrease in income level or layoff)
    • Form 1040 filed with IRS
    • Benefits award letter (Social Security, VA, etc.)
    • Self-declaration statement (if other documents cannot be produced). 
  • Proof of Tenancy (One of the following)
    • First page of current lease
    • Utility bill showing address
    • Notice of past due rent
    • Eviction notice
    • Self-declaration (if other documents cannot be produced). 

What if I am unable to provide any of the documents needed for income verification (ex: self-employed, unemployed and not accepting benefits, etc.)?
You may still be able to qualify for rental and/or utility assistance. You can fill out a self-certification of annual income and certify that the information is complete and accurate. 

Is there any idea about how long the approval process will take and if approved, how long before my past due rent will be paid to my landlord? 
The approval process can take anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks. Please follow up by calling or emailing your assigned agency.

If I owe a credit card company for rent paid/family member/someone who lent me money, can I apply for assistance?
Only landlords, property owners, and utility companies can be paid by this program. Unfortunately, we are not able to reimburse renters directly. Applicants must provide landlord/property owner information and this information will be verified. If you are in need of additional assistance related to COVID-19 hardship/expenses, call 211 to inquiry about other programs you may qualify for. 

Is the assistance a loan that must be repaid? 
No. This assistance is federal assistance that does not have to be repaid to United Way, the agency you are working with, your landlord, or any other entity. 

If I owe rent at two different residences, are both units eligible for assistance? 
No. Under SB 91, only the currently occupied unit is available for assistance. The Rental Assistance program is intended to be a housing stability and eviction prevention resource, and there is no risk of eviction from units where the household is no longer an occupant. 

What if I owe back rent at an apartment in Monterey County, but had to move because of a COVID-related hardship. I no longer live in Monterey County, but still owe back rent. Am I eligible for the Monterey County Rental Assistance Program? 
If you left your residence in Monterey County with debts owed in arrears (back rent), those debts are not recoverable under the Monterey County Rental Assistance Program. 

If I already received rental and/or utility assistance from this program, can I reapply for additional assistance? 
Yes, you can contact the agency you were assigned to and see if you qualify for additional assistance. Each tenant or eligible household can qualify for up to fifteen months of rental and/or utility assistance. This includes twelve months of rental and utility assistance for past-due rent owed between the dates of April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021; and three months of prospective (future) rent and utility assistance for the months between April 1, 2021 and December 31, 2021.

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Tenant Protections

What is the difference between Senate Bill 91 and the Monterey County Rental Assistance Program? Are they the same thing? 
Senate Bill 91, also known as the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act took effect on February 1, 2021 and is an extension of the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020 (AB 3088). AB 3088 initially imposed a statewide moratorium on evictions between March 1, 2020 and January 31, 2021 for tenants unable to pay some or all of their rent due to COVID-19-related financial distress, provided the tenant submit a signed declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress to his or her landlord. SB 91 extends this eviction moratorium through June 30, 2021 and adds additional tenant protections, including the Monterey County Rental Assistance Program. Tenants do not have to apply or receive rental assistance in order to receive the tenant protections afforded to them under SB 91. View a list of the tenant protections under SB 91. It is important that tenants submit a signed declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress to their landlord as soon as possible, if they have not already done so, in order to be protected under SB 91. 

Can I be evicted for not paying rent right now? 
No, you cannot be evicted. The newest State eviction moratorium law, which was passed on June 28, 2021, prevents any evictions related to nonpayment of rent due to COVID-19 related financial hardship until September 30, 2021 (you can find the hardship declaration here). To be protected, tenants must do the following:

  1. Present a signed Covid-19 hardship declaration form to their landlord or property manager.
  2. Pay at least 25% of total rent due between September 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021 by June 30, 2021. 

Is it too late to fill out the COVID-19 hardship declaration form and give it to my landlord or property manager?
No, it is not too late. You can find the COVID-19 hardship declaration form here. Fill out the form and give it to your landlord or property manager as soon as you can. This will allow you to be protected under the Senate Bill 91 tenant protections through June 30,2021. 

I have applied for rental assistance and I have submitted a signed declaration of COVID-19 related hardship and submitted it to my landlord. My landlord is still attempting to evict me. What can I do? 
You should contact a local legal services agency to assist you with your questions and concerns. Here is a list of local agencies that provide legal services to Monterey County residents:

  • California Rural Legal Assistance Salinas Regional Office
    3 Williams Road
    Salinas, CA 93905
    (831) 757-5221, Toll-free: (800) 337-0690
    www.crla.org
  • Eden Council for Hope & Opportunity Monterey Office
    570 Pacific Street
    Monterey, CA 93940
    (831) 566-0824, Toll-free (855) ASK-ECHO
    contact@echofairhousing.org
    www.echofairhousing.org
  • Legal Services for Seniors
    915 Hilby Avenue, Suite 2
    Seaside, California 93955
    (831) 899-0492
    Fax: (831) 401-3185
    www.lssmc.net

I have submitted my signed COVID-19-related hardship declaration to my landlord and have paid my 25% of the rent owed. My landlord is continuing to charge me late fees for each month. What can I do? 
Under California State Law, SB 91 prohibits landlords from charging late fees or penalties to tenants who have submitted a signed declaration COVID-19-related hardship declaration and have been unable to pay their rent between the dates of March 20,2020 and September 30, 2021. If you have been charged late fees after signing and submitting the declaration, you may want to contact a local legal services agency. 

Where can I learn more about my rights as a tenant?

For more information on tenant rights, and local legal resources for tenants, please download our information and resource guide. Available in English / Spanish

You can visit the State of California Housing and Community Development (HCD) website. They have several resources dedicated to tenants, including an interactive app that provides you with support and information about Senate Bill 91 and eviction protections.

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Eligibility

Is Monterey County Rental Assistance Program open to all residents regardless of their citizenship status?
Residents are eligible to apply for the Monterey County Rental Assistance Program, regardless of citizenship status. The application process does not ask questions related to your citizenship or legal status.

Who is eligible to apply? 
In order to be eligible for the Monterey County Rental Assistance Program, your tenant(s) must be a Monterey County resident. Tenants must also be a renter, fall within the income limit (below 80% area median income (AMI), have qualified for unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship due to COVID-19; and demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability. 

If the renter is not applying, am I as a landlord or property manager eligible to apply?
Yes. As of May 25, landlords and property managers are eligible to apply with our participating partner the Housing Resource Center.

What does a "COVID-19-related financial distress" mean? 
A COVID-19-related financial distress can include any of the following:

  1. Loss of income caused by the COVID-19 pandemic
  2. Increased out-of-pocket expenses directly related to performing essential work during the COVID-19 pandemic
  3. Increased expenses directly related to the health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
  4. Childcare responsibilities or responsibilities to care for an elderly, disabled, or sick family member directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic that limits the tenant's ability to earn income or increased costs of these responsibilities
  5. Other circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic that has reduced a tenant's income or increased a tenant's expenses. 

If a tenant(s) is unauthorized occupants, are they able to eligible to apply for rental assistance?
Unauthorized occupants cannot receive assistance without providing a lease agreement or a signed statement proving residence by their landlord or property manager.

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Application

What is the sequence of events of the application process? 

  1. The tenant can apply three different ways: Calling 211, filling out an online form, or contacting one of the local agencies administering the Rental Assistance Program.
  2. The tenant is assigned a local agency that contacts him or her to complete their application
  3. The agency collects documentation including proof of income, identification, and lease agreement from the tenant. At this point, the agency will provide the tenant with forms that will need to be signed/filled out by the landlord or property manager. The landlord may also be contacted directly by the agency.
  4. Once the agency has received all required documentation, payment will be issued in the form of a check to the landlord or property manager on behalf of the tenant. 

Is the property management company “the landlord” for the purposes of this application?
Yes, and a property manager can sign the required forms on behalf of the property owner.

How many payments can I receive for rental assistance?
The maximum each tenant can receive is 15 months: 12 months of past-due rent between April 1, 2020 and present day, and three months of prospective (future) rent , for between present day and December 31, 2021, paid at 25% of the rent. 

What documents must a landlord provide for the tenant to receive assistance?
Agencies will ask for either a lease agreement or a signed letter affirming:

  1. Monthly rent amount
  2. Total amount due
  3. A rental relationship exists and is valid. Additionally, they require a W9 tax form from the property owner.

Does the W9 tax info have to be provided to the local agency or to the tenant to give to the agency?
The W9 can be provided to the agency either through the tenant or directly to the agency via email, fax, mail, or in person.

Are all occupants on the lease required to apply or just one member of the household?
Only one household member needs to apply.

Do I need to have a formal lease with my tenant to be eligible for rental assistance through the Monterey County Rental Assistance Program? 
In the absence of a signed lease, evidence of the amount of a rental payment may include:

  • Bank statements
  • Check stubs
  • Other documentation that reasonably establishes a pattern of paying rent
  • Written attestation by a landlord who can be verified as the legitimate owner or managing agent of the unit

When can my tenant(s) apply for rental assistance? 
Your tenant(s) can apply now.

My tenant does not want to apply, but I believe they are eligible. What can I do? 
If your tenant doesn't want to apply, it may be possible that your tenant does not know enough about the program. Please direct them to the ERAP Page to learn more about the program. You can also encourage them to call 211 and talk to a trained Call Specialist to learn more about program and determine their eligibility. 

If a tenant is up-to-date on their rental payments, can they apply for rental and/or utility assistance for the prospective (future) months limit of 3 months future rent assistance?
Yes as long as the tenant can prove that they are eligible for the program, facing housing instability or unsafe living conditions because of a COVID-19 hardship. 

I have a resident coming in to bring paperwork for me to fill out/sign, does this mean the resident was already approved for assistance?
Yes. This can be verified by contacting the agency assisting your tenant.

How does the contact between agencies and the landlords work?
Participating partners will accept forms via mail, in-person, email, or fax. The agency assisting your tenant should also be available via phone or email. 

Is there any idea about how long the approval process will take and if approved how long before landlords will receive relief?
The approval process is heavily dependant on the landlord and tenant participation and their ability to provide the required documentation. The application approval process for your tenant(s) can take anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks. For check processing, expect anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks.

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Landlord Protections

I have a tenant that has failed to pay part or all of his or her rent between March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021. If I participate in this program and have part of the rent paid, can I still recover the remaining unpaid rent from my tenant? 
Yes, you can. 

Where can I learn more about my rights as a landlord?
You can visit the State of California Housing and Community Development (HCD) website. They have several resources dedicated to landlords and property owners, including an interactive app that provides you with support and information about how to interact with your tenants.

What if I come across a case of fraud or abuse of the Monterey County Rental Assistance Program? Who can I contact and file a complaint?
The Monterey County District Attorney's office is the best point of contact regarding allegations of fraud and abuse related to the Monterey County Rental Assistance Program. The Consumer Unit handles most of the complaints and has an online form.

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