A previous version of this article stated that the SERA Program would be closing applications on October 22. The article has since been updated to reflect SHRA’s decision to extend the application deadline for the program to October 29.
The Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency (SHRA) is currently offering an aid through the Sacramento Emergency Rental Assistance Program (SERA) through an online application in order to provide financial support to residents affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
SERA offers eligible applicants whose households made less than 50% of the median income of the area they live in and who can prove that the COVID-19 pandemic caused them a significant financial burden up to $4,000 in rental assistance funds.
“If you lost your job just recently and you now owe $1,000 then that is what we are going to pay,” SERA spokesperson Sarah O’Daniel told ABC10 in interview. “We can also pay if you are still unemployed and the $4,000 isn’t used in back payment. We are able to make monthly payments.”
SERA application priority will be given to families with children under the age of 18 and households that make less than 30% of the median income of rent in their area, according to the program website.
Application help can be obtained through visiting SHRA’s in-person sites, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (916) 449-1266.
“It is not any kind of cancellation of landlord debt or mortgages,” says Delphine Brody, an organizer with the Sacramento Eviction Defense Network, “[…] but it can relieve eligible tenants from civil debt liability, small claims court actions and collections and hopefully it will reopen again, but there’s no assurance of that.”
The application window for the SERA program will end October 29, however a new service provided through a joint partnership between Sacramento County and the Center at Sierra Health Foundation will provide applicants who had or currently have COVID-19 with up to $,1000 in individual aid and $3,000 for families.
“We have some services that can help you and your family bounce back after COVID, bounce back after being sick, bounce back after quarantine,” Sierra Health Foundation representative Kindra Montgomery-Block said in interview with KCRA3. “We are some folks that can really wrap our arms around you and make sure you have the resources and services you need to be healthier and safer over COVID.”
This new program began accepting applications on their partnership website on Thursday and will continue until December 30th.
“I want to make sure that [tenants] are aware that they do have rights if they are given notice by their landlord that they have to pay rent or move out. The Sacramento Eviction Defense Network is a resource for people and they can contact us if something like this happens,” Brody adds. “[Tenants] have rights under a state law called AB 3088 and a federal order by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that is essentially an eviction moratorium through end of this calendar year.”
Local ordinance AB 3088, the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020, requires landlords to provide tenants with a form at the time of eviction that declares COVID-19-related financial distress, protecting tenants affected by the pandemic from eviction and converting between 25% and 100% of unpaid rent into consumer debt, provided the form is submitted within 15 days of the eviction notice.
A summary of protections provided by AB 3088 is available here, courtesy of Tenants Together.
The Sacramento Eviction Defense Network can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at (916) 562-3382.