The application deadline for the second round of Sacramento’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (SERA2) is quickly approaching. The 90-million-dollar program provides renters who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 the opportunity to apply for aid. Applicants must apply on the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency’s website by March 19 to be considered for the program. 

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To be eligible, applicants must qualify as low-income according to criteria on SHRA’s website. A household of two cannot make more than $55,250, for example. This threshold is significantly higher than the previous SERA round, making it accessible to far more Sacramentans. Preference for the program is being given to lower-income families. 

Tenants chosen for the SERA2 Program will receive 80% of the cost of their unpaid rent starting April, 2020. If their landlord chooses to accept the money, they give up the right to the remaining 20% owed. The program is designed to provide a compromise for landlords, who otherwise may not receive any rent from low-income or impacted tenants. 

If the landlord refuses to accept those conditions, instead the SHRA will instead pay 25% of the applicant’s rent. Renters do not have to pay any more than 25% of their rent to be protected under the state’s current eviction moratorium, so long as their income has been impacted by COVID-19. 

“The goal is to assist as many families as possible,” said Danielle Foster, Housing Police Manager for the City of Sacramento. “We encourage all income-eligible families to apply.”

In addition to getting help paying missed rent, applicants can receive help in paying back missed utilities fees, including from SMUD, PG&E, and even, in some cases, internet service providers like AT&T and Verizon. Applicants may also apply to receive monthly payments from SHRA totalling 25% of their future rent until June 31st, 2021. 

Anyone who meets the eligible criteria may apply on the SHRA’s website

This second round of assistance is significantly larger than the previous round, which ended in 2020. In addition to the more lenient criteria to apply for funding, this time the amount of aid any one household can receive is likely to be much higher. The last round of assistance was capped at 4,000 dollars per household. This time there is no such limit. 

The most stark difference between the two rounds, however, is the amount of funding they are receiving. The previous round received less than 5 million dollars in federal and city funds. This time, the program is getting closer to 90 million. 

This time around, the program is being assisted by the state’s COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act, which also extended the eviction moratorium until June, 2021. Funds for the program are coming entirely from the federal government and the state, rather than out of the city or county’s coffers. 

Only time will tell how much of a difference this new money will make, however, in the previous round, SHRA was only able to provide assistance to 15% of applicants within Sacramento County. This shows that there is a large need for assistance of this type.