Fresno launches $35 million COVID emergency rental assistance program

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Thousands of struggling tenants in Fresno will now get a much-needed financial break in rent.

Monday, City of Fresno officials announced they received nearly $35 million for emergency rental assistance grants.

The financial assistance is available for Fresno residents who have been impacted by COVID-19 and are unable to pay their full amount of rent and utilities from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021.

This assistance will help more than 8,000 families in the city of Fresno.

City of Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer said, "The purpose of this program, quite frankly, is to make sure our most vulnerable residents can keep roofs over their head."

More than 85,000 units are rented in Fresno, with more than 8,000 families at risk of losing their homes.

The city is reassigning 10 of its employees to work on the program and will partner with six community-benefit organizations (CBO) to process the applications.

"There are families that are still struggling, still families that are not working full time. There are still folks that have gotten furloughed, so we know that these dollars are going to go a long way," said Fresno City Council President Luis Chavez.

In the past, the city has set aside $4.5 million to assist renters for back payment, now they are administering right under $35 million. It breaks down into two pots of money. The $15.8 million was received from the federal government and needs to be used by September 1st. The $19.1 million is federal dollars administered in block grants from the state of California.

In order to be eligible, a renter must meet certain income requirements. The city is prioritizing renters with an area median income of 50 percent or less, first. This means a single person with an income of $24,500, or a family of four making $34,950.

Then, the city will transition to assist those who make less than 80 percent of the median income. In this phase, income for a single person caps at $39,150 and for a family of four at $55,900.

Once the city has helped renters with their past due rent, then it will assist with back-utility payments and future rent until money runs out.

The City of Fresno will pay 80 percent of an eligible tenant's past due rent owed only if the landlord accepts that as full payment and agrees to forgive the remaining 20% balance. Landlords must also complete his or her portion of the online application.

If a landlord does not opt-in to the program, tenants will get only a fraction of the help.

"If landlords choose not to accept the 80 percent, then we will be offering to the tenants 25 percent of what they owe their landlord. They must then pay their landlord that 25 percent and then they are exempt from any type of eviction under Senate Bill 91," Mayor Dyer said.

The assistance is not reliant on proving your immigration status.

Chavez said, "It does not matter whether you are a citizen, whether you are a non-citizen, everybody is welcomed to apply. We are going to help everybody we are all in this together".

According to city officials, funding will be dispersed soon.

To apply for emergency rental assistance in the city of Fresno visit their website or call 559-621-6801 or email erap@fresno.gov.
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