State Eviction Moratorium Ends, but Fresno Renters Protected. Here’s How To Get Help. - GV Wire - Explore. Explain. Expose
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State Eviction Moratorium Ends, but Fresno Renters Protected. Here’s How To Get Help.

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Eviction doesn't have to happen, officials say. There are protections and ample assistance funding available. (Shutterstock)
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California’s eviction moratorium officially ended Thursday night, but renters inside Fresno’s city limits remain protected.

“The City and its partners are working diligently every day to get this funding out to those that need it.” — Courtney Espinoza, program implementation manager, city of Fresno

In addition, the city’s COVID-19 rent relief program will continue to assist anyone unable to pay rent and utilities until tens of millions of dollars are exhausted.  

Moreover, Fresno County renters outside the city can protect themselves from eviction by signing up for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. Those who have registered already are protected.

“Eligible tenants that complete an application with the program may be protected from an eviction for non-payment of rent,” said Nur Kausar, spokesman for the state Department of Housing and Development. “This is why it is so vitally important that people understand that the rent relief program is actively accepting applications.”  

City Has Ample Rental Assistance Funds 

The city of Fresno has received a total of $42.8 million in ERAP funding of which $12 million had been dispersed as of Thursday for past rent and utilities.

City Hall also will take in another $21.8 million in ERAP’s second phase.

Courtney Espinoza, program implementation manager for the city, says that while Fresno is set to receive a significant amount of money, the expectation is that all of the money will be used.

“The City and its partners are working diligently every day to get this funding out to those that need it,” said Espinoza. “We are in line to meet the milestone requirements of the program, so we do not anticipate this to be an issue at all.”

Fresno Extends Eviction Moratorium

With so much funding, the city has gone an extra step by extending its moratorium.

That means anyone who was unable to pay 100% of their rent for the past 18 months won’t run the risk of eviction — even if they have not yet signed up for the program. And, those in the program will continue to receive rent and utility assistance.

City officials strongly encourage anyone needing rental assistance to apply for funding as soon as possible.

According to Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer, the moratorium will remain as long as the city’s pandemic emergency declaration is in place. That declaration is based on local coronavirus infection data.

Chris Montelongo, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff, told GV Wire that Dyer doesn’t anticipate lifting the moratorium until after the end of this year.

ERAP Funding Protects Against Evictions

Although eviction protections have changed, Kausar urges tenants who are eligible for rent relief to apply for ERAP.

Kausar says they have additional funds available to distribute for months to come. Starting Friday, landlords cannot seek eviction of tenants who are eligible for the ERAP program. However, any tenant owing rent as of Oct. 1 will have to show they have applied for rent relief. 

Fresno County Social Services program manager Laura Moreno says ERAP funding is not necessarily tied to the eviction moratorium. Therefore, most people should not be too worried about it ending because they can still apply for funding and be protected from eviction.

“Whether there’s a moratorium or not, we can still help people pay their rent. It’s either their back rent or it could be prospective rent and also utilities and prospective utilities.” — Laura Moreno, program manager, Fresno County Social Services

“Whether there’s a moratorium or not, we can still help people pay their rent,” said Moreno. “It’s either their back rent or it could be prospective rent and also utilities and prospective utilities.”

Under shield laws, any tenant who has paid at least 25% of their rent between Sept. 1, 2020, and Sept. 3, 2021, and have applied for ERAP funding will not be able to be evicted.

If a landlord insists on moving forward with an eviction notice, tenants who are currently pending approval or have a copy of their application for COVID-19 related financial distress form cannot be evicted.

Struggling Fresno city and county renters who haven’t applied for emergency assistance should do so immediately, officials say. (Shutterstock)

Who is Eligible for Rent Relief?

With ERAP, those who make less than 80% of the median income, were negatively affected by COVID-19 and were unable to pay their full amount of rent and utilities from April 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2021, are eligible for funding up to 100%.

A family of four living in Fresno can qualify if their annual earnings are less than $55,570. For calculations on income limits per family household numbers, visit huduser.

For those worried about applying for assistance without citizenship, those without documentation are eligible under California’s COVID-19 assistance program.

While money from ERAP round one is quickly being distributed, residents of the city of Fresno and the county’s outlying communities have until Sept. 30, 2022, to apply for ERAP funds. The second round of ERAP funding is intended to help renters through September 2025.

ERAP Application Process

To start, a tenant applying for ERAP funding will have to show either a 2020 tax return, a W-2 tax form or a 1099G unemployment form, current pay stubs, or proof of participation in a state or federal subsidy programs, such as CalFresh or CalWORKS.

For those seeking help with utility bills, a copy of a utility invoice or statements for any unpaid utility, water, trash, and internet bills after April 1, 2020, is also required.

For landlords seeking assistance, a lease or rental agreement reflecting renter’s name, address, and monthly rent due or a rent ledger or rent statement showing the balance of unpaid rent from April 1, 2020, as well as a W-8 or W-9 form is required.

However, not having any of those documents, does not mean you can’t apply as long as you provide proof of identification according to California’s Housing is Key program. 

Application Links for City of Fresno Residents:

Here is the application form link to download the Emergency Rental Assistance Application in English, Spanish, Hmong, and Punjabi.

City residents can apply for rent relief by visiting era.fresno.gov

Contact Community Organizations Assisting with COVID-19 Rent Relief in the City of Fresno

Other Application Links 

County residents outside the city of Fresno can apply by visiting fresnorentalhelp.com.

Residents can send their application forms by mail to RH Community Builders Attn: ERAP, 2550 W Clinton Ave #142, Fresno, CA 93705, or by email at erap@rhcbfresno.com. For any questions,  call (559) 515-4700.

Here are the application form links for tenants to download in English and Spanish.

Here are the application form links for landlords to download in English.

Lastly, here is the application form link for the Declaration of COVID-19 Related Financial Distress in English.

Liz Juarez joined GV Wire in July, 2021 as a Digital News Producer. She has experience working for publications around the Central Valley including the Clovis Roundup, Porterville Recorder and Hanford Sentinel. While in college, she interned for Mountain West Athletics and served as Outreach Chair for the Fresno State Radio and Television Digital News Association (RTDNA). Liz earned a bachelor's degree in Media Communications and Journalism at Fresno State and a master's degree in Communications from Arizona State University. In her down time, she enjoys reading, drawing and staying active by playing basketball, taking trips to the coast and visiting national parks. You can contact Liz at liz.juarez@gvwire.com