By Zohd Khan
Last Friday on Oct. 16, the City of Davis announced that Davis residents are now able to apply for the Emergency Tenant Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) Grant Program, which is meant to “support residents who are at greatest risk of displacement due to non-payment of rent related to the COVID-19 pandemic and to offset corresponding lost revenue that landlords need to provide housing services.”
The program provides a one-time rent and utilities relief grant directly to landlords on behalf of low-income tenants unable to pay the full rent themselves as a result of the adversities arising from COVID-19.
The eligibility of applicants will be assessed based on how severe the hardships of their circumstances are, and by “hardships,” the city specifies the “loss of or reduction in employment and wages, increased medical or childcare costs, or loss of childcare.”
From an income standpoint, applicants must have been up to 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI; very low income) or up to 80 percent AMI (low income) with a rent burden of at least 30 percent to be eligible for the grant.
The household income limits established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) vary depending on the number of occupants/members of one’s household, with a 60 percent AMI allowing for applicants to have a range from $38,880 for 1 person to $64,380 for 6 people. For 80 percent AMI, the range consists of $51,800 for 1 person households to $85,850 for 6 person households.
For proof of significant economic impact, applicants may provide a signed letter from an employer elaborating on financial circumstances. Other alternatives include a termination notice, an unemployment award letter, bank statements, medical bills, payroll checks or self-certification of one’s inability to pay rent.
Furthermore, HUD indicated that certain federal aid under the CARES Act is not included in the assessment of income eligibility. This includes the Economic Stimulus Payments of $1200 per individual and $500 per child, as well as supplemental Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation of $600 per week.
Other types of “regular unemployment aid,, such as the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) are still counted towards an individual’s income.
Types of TBRA assistance include rent assistance, security deposits, utility costs, and utility deposits. Regardless of the type assistance an applicant receives, they can not exceed a one-time cap grant amount of $4,000 per household in Davis and $3,000 for households in all other Yolo County areas.
This initiative’s main goal in helping applicants is that it will be a bridge between “what that tenant can afford and the tenant’s actual rent.”
The actual application process requires prospective recipients to complete an online application, which Yolo County Housing will then review and notify the applicant via email or phone whether they qualified or not.
Once applicants receive confirmation that they qualify for the grant, they must gather documentation by providing a valid ID, current lease agreement, proof of income loss, and proof of an existing housing crisis through documentation that tenants are behind on payments. If such proof is not available, applicants must attest in writing that they are experiencing such a crisis as written proof.
According to mayor Gloria Partida, “In any crisis, it is the most vulnerable that are hit the hardest. This grant program is a lifeline for people whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic.”
Among the most vulnerable are college students, specifically from UC Davis, who struggle to make ends meet as they can’t afford to pay leases/rent for their apartments in time. The aspiration is that this grant will be able to provide some breathing room for residents like those desperate college students, in hopes that they will be able to endure the hardships until the COVID-19 crisis ends.
For more information on additional application requirements or general information on the grant, visit http://www.ych.ca.gov/COVID-19/2020.php.
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