SERA Program FAQs
ELIGIBILITY FOR EMERGENCY RENTAL ASSISTANCE
What are the eligibility requirements for the SERA Program?
To qualify for rental assistance, applicants must meet the minimum eligibility criteria below. Application review requires that each program requirement be met and verifiable supporting documentation provided. Submitting an application does not guarantee financial assistance.
To be eligible, renters must:
- Currently rent their home anywhere in the County of Sacramento
- Have household gross annual income at or below the low-income limits shown below
- Have at least one household member that:
- is qualified for unemployment benefits, OR
- has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or has experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19
- Demonstrate housing instability or a risk of being unhoused
- For information about the SERA1 Program go HERE.
Households that previously applied for and/or received rental assistance through the SERA 1 Program are eligible to apply again.
If you saved or did not submit your application for the SERA 2 program (February 25 – March 19, 2021), you can continue your application and submit.
Households that previously applied for and/or received rental assistance through the SERA Program are eligible to apply again.
Gross Annual Household Low Income Limits:
Are people who rent a room eligible to apply?
Yes. If they can provide proof of a lease or rental agreement issued by the property owner for the room.
Are people who own mobile homes, but pay space rent to a landlord eligible to apply?
Yes. If they can provide proof of a lease or rental agreement issued by the property owner.
Will you help me pay my mortgage?
No. SERA provides rental assistance only. Please contact your lender directly to discuss payment options.
Are applicants who reside in Public Housing or are a part of Section 8/Housing Choice Vouchers, Permanent Supportive Housing, or Section 811 eligible to apply for SERA?
Yes, as long as there is no duplication of the assistance currently received (from Section 8 or Public Housing) and they have had a financial impact due to COVID-19.
Can you apply if you do not owe for past due rent?
Yes. The SERA Program also provides for assistance with past due utilities (including internet) from April 1, 2020 to current.
What if pre-COVID income was above the low-income limits, but because of extended job loss is now below the low-income limits?
If you are requesting assistance paying rental arrears, your 2020 income is required for verification. If you are looking for assistance with rent for April, May and June 2021, income eligibility is based on your current gross household income.
Can I receive assistance for a previous address that I owe back rent to if I no longer live there?
Yes. The SERA Program can provide rental assistance to eligible households that no longer occupy the residential unit where rental arrears were incurred.
If a household has received assistance from another COVID-19 rental assistance program, can they receive help from SERA2 as well?
Yes, as long as there is no duplication of assistance for the same time period covered by the other COVID-19 rental assistance program.
Will any applications be given priority?
Applicants who have received an eviction notice from their landlord will be given priority. An eviction notice can include a pay or quit notice, unlawful detainer notice, or any other eviction warning notice given to the applicant by their landlord.
Applicants who have received one of these notices must submit the document on their application in order to receive priority. These applications will be processed according to application date or court date.
For households who have not received an eviction notice, priority will be given as follows:
Priority Tier 1: Households at or below very low income limits OR Households at or below low income limits where someone in the household has been unemployed for 90 days prior to date of application.
Priority Tier 2: Households at or below low income limits and in a community disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
Priority Tier 3: Households at or below low income limits and not addressed in Tiers 1 & 2.
What are the very low income limits for Priority Tier 1?
Gross Annual Household Very Low Income Limits:
HOW TO APPLY
When can I apply for the SERA Program?
You can apply now! Effective May 11, 2021, the application period has reopened and currently not scheduled to close.
What are the steps to apply?
Step 1: Prior to starting the application process, review all eligibility requirements and required documents at www.shra.org/sera.
Step 2: Register at www.shra.org/sera and complete the application. It is important that you remember your log-in and your password.
Step 3: You will receive email confirmation once your application is successfully submitted.
Step 4: You can check on the status of your application at www.shra.org/sera.
Step 5: Your application and documents will be reviewed. You will be contacted if additional information is required.
If you need assistance with submitting an application for the SERA Program, please click HERE for a list of partnering organizations who can assist you in submitting your documents.
What internet browser should I use to submit my application?
For the best user experience, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, or Safari web browsers are recommended. If you do not know your browser, go to www.whatismybrowser.com and it will display it for you.
What if I type in www.shra.org/sera and cannot access information on the rental assistance program?
Type in www.shra.org and look at the scrolling banner at the top of the page. When information on the SERA Program scrolls through please click on it.
What should I do if I cannot log in after registering?
- Once you start the registration process you will be asked for an email address. Once entered, you must confirm this email address before you log in and complete your application. Please check your email, and click on the link in the Confirm Registration email message you received to confirm your registered email address.
- If you cannot find the registration email that was sent to you, please check your junk or spam folder. If you still cannot find the registration email, click the Resend Email Confirmation link on the login page.
- If you successfully confirmed your email address, but still cannot log in, select the Forgot your password? link on the login page. An email message will be sent to you with a link to create your new password.
Can I use my phone to apply?
Yes. You can use a mobile device, tablet, laptop, or computer that has internet access.
Do I need an email address to apply?
Yes. An email address is required to apply for this program. Most of our correspondence will be through email.
What if I do not have an email address?
Is the online application available in other languages?
Should I tell my landlord that I am applying?
Yes. Communication with your landlord is important. You will also need to provide your landlord’s name and their phone number, email, or mailing address in your application. Accurate information is critical so we can promptly reach your landlord. The process is likely to go faster if your landlord knows you have applied and is ready to participate in the process.
What should I do if I want to change my submitted application or upload documents I didn’t have when I originally applied?
Log in and select the Edit button to open your application. You can then make changes or upload documents and re-submit your updated application.
What should I do if I have problems submitting my application?
Confirm that you are completing your application in a recommended internet browser (Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, or Safari). Look for error messages informing you of missing information and make sure you are following these requirements when you upload all required documents:
- Each document must be no larger than 10 megabytes (MB) in size.
- Allowed valid file formats end in file extensions consisting of .PDF, .JPG, .PNG, and .JPEG.
- If you need assistance with submitting an application for the SERA2 Program, please click HERE for a list of partnering organizations who can assist you in submitting your documents.
- Send an email, with screenshots of any error messages you receive if possible, to email@example.com
How often can I apply?
Once per application period. Duplicate applications will be removed. Households that previously applied for and/or received rental assistance through the SERA1 Program last year are eligible to apply again, however it cannot be for payments already made by the program for that time period.
Can landlords also apply on behalf of their tenants?
Yes. Landlords can register their tenants for the program, but tenants will need to provide the necessary documentation.
What if I started my application but did not submit it by the February 25 - March 19, 2021 application period deadline?
An application must be submitted to be considered for assistance. The application period has re-opened on May 11, 2021, so you may complete and submit your application now.
How do I manage my Spam/Junk folder?
Some e-mail services may occasionally route an item from the SERA Program to your Spam or Junk folder, which is usually located below your Inbox in your e-mail account. Please see the following links to Google, Outlook and Yahoo email support on how to manage your Spam/Junk folders.
Google: Click Here
Outlook: Click Here
Yahoo: Click Here
How Do I Submit an Appeal?
Appeals are available to program applicants whose applications have been found ineligible for assistance. An appeal form and submission instructions will be sent with the notice of ineligibility. If you feel that you are eligible for an appeal, but have not received a form or instructions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (916) 449-1266.
How Will the Appeal Be Conducted?
SERA appeals are evidence based. Consistent with that, the applicant is asked to provide evidence which will clearly demonstrate that the basis for the SERA Program’s findings are incorrect. In the event that additional clarification is needed, SERA staff will reach out to the client.
How are Applicants/Landlords Informed of the Outcome?
The Appeals Officer will notify the applicant of the decision, including a statement explaining the reason(s) for the decision. A decision letter will be e-mailed to the applicant within 30 calendar days of the receipt of the appeal request.
What documents will I need to provide in the application?
One form of identification for the person applying, such as:
Current utility bills showing amounts owed:
Lease (all pages)
Document received from landlord showing amount owed in arrears:
This could be either a past due notice or a Statement of Rental Arrears
Documentation of all current household income for past 2 months:
Benefit letters from SSI, SSA,
Unemployment/EDD Insurance Award Notice
If you have received an eviction notice, please provide one of the following:
-Pay or quit notice
-Unlawful detainer notice
-Notice to vacate
-Other eviction notice from the landlord
What assistance will be provided by the SERA Program?
1. Rental Arrears
For assistance with rental arrears, landlords will have a choice:
To accept 100 % of an eligible household’s unpaid rental debt accumulated on or after April 1, 2020 – (up to 18 months of total rental and utilities assistance).
To not accept payment directly from the SERA Program. In this case, 100% of the rent arrears from April 1, 2020 – (up to 18 months of total rental and utilities assistance) will be made payable to the tenant, so they can pay the landlord.
2. Utility Arrears
The SERA program is currently prioritizing rental assistance. Requests for utility assistance will be considered on a case by case basis.
What utilities will be covered by the program?
SMUD, PG&E, water, sewer, and trash paid outside of the lease may be covered. Utilities paid with the rent will be included in the rental assistance disbursement. Internet services may be covered by the program if it is required in the home for distance learning or teleworking.
Who will get the utilities payment?
Utility payments will be issued directly to the utility company. Applicants must agree for the SERA Program to share account information on their behalf with the utility companies in order to receive utilities assistance.
When will I hear about the status of my application?
The status of your application will be updated as it moves through the processing steps. Log in to the application portal where you submitted your application to view your status. You will receive emails/phone calls if information is required when staff process your paperwork. You will also receive emails when it moves through the review process.
Will I get notified right away if it is determined that I will not receive the assistance?
The SERA2 Program will make every effort to notify applicants and landlords of their application status throughout the process.
Will payments be made to the tenant or the landlord/property owner?
In most cases, the payment will be made directly to the landlord or property owner. If your landlord does not agree to participate in the program and accept one of the assistance options, payment can be made directly to the tenant to pay their landlord and receive the protection provided in AB3088.
LANDLORDS AND PROPERTY OWNERS
Can I apply for the rental assistance on behalf of my tenant?
Yes. Landlords can register their tenants for the program. The tenant will then be notified to complete their part of the application process.
What are the rental assistance options for landlords/property managers?
For assistance with rental arrears, landlords will have a choice:
- To accept 100% of an eligible household’s unpaid rental debt accumulated on or after April 1, 2020.
- To not accept payment directly from the SERA Program and choose to not participate in the SERA Program. In this case, 100% of the rent arrears from April 1, 2020 will be made payable to the tenant so they can pay the landlord and receive eviction protection until September 30, 2021 as provided in AB832.
Will my tenant receive the rental assistance?
If a landlord agrees to participate and accepts the rental assistance, funds will be disbursed directly to the landlord. If the landlord chooses not to participate, the determined assistance will be disbursed directly to the tenant.
What is the landlord/property owner self-certification language for SERA?
Landlords will self-certify to the below language, as well as agree to the terms of the rental assistance option they select, as part of their program participation.
I/We declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that the foregoing is true and correct, as of the date of its submission, except those matters that I have indicated that I am informed and believe and upon such information and belief that the matters referenced are also true and correct, under the penalty of perjury under the laws of California. I/We understand that any false, misleading, or missing information will result in denial of this application and may be punishable by the fullest extent of the law. Making a false statement under penalty of perjury is a crime and is punishable as such. All applications are conditional upon final review by the SHRA.
How do I get documentation for Court/Status Letters?
Documentation for the Court/Status Letters
In the event that the landlord (or agent) needs to produce proof of application status for the Court. The Superior Court of California County of Sacramento has stated that a screenshot/screenprint is sufficient to serve as the final decision from the rental assistance program needed to file for eviction in the following statuses:
“Saved” – Applications which are in-process but not complete and submitted.
“Submitted” – Applications which are submitted, but not yet being processed.
“Under Review” – Applications which are being processed.
“Ineligible, Rejected or Denied” – Applications which were submitted and found not to qualify for available funding.
To check your tenant’s application status:
- Go to https://www.shra.org/sera/
- Scroll down to the section titled: TO APPLY OR RECERTIFY
- Find “Check Your Status Here”, select that button/option.
- Select the Add/Manage Tenants button.
- Enter your tenants first or last name in the search box toward the middle of the screen on the far right.
- When the results appear, this is the screen that you need to capture for the court. Note* – Please be sure that you get both the tenants name and status in the same image.
You may use a screenprint or print screen to capture the information needed for the courts on this screen.
Tip – If using a cellular phone, you may wish to orient your phone horizontally to ensure that you are capturing the largest image.
To Capture a Screenshot or Screen Print with an Apple Product:
Advice from Apple: click here
More options from Apple: click here
Advice from Apple: click here
To Capture a Screenshot with Windows:
Advice from Microsoft: click here
Most keyboards also contain a Print Screen button, which captures the entire active screen. However, use of this button varies by manufacturer, so you may need to look those up individually.
Any of these capture tools may be pasted into an e-mail or document (such as Microsoft Word). If you need to crop your screen shot or screen print, select the screenshot and then right click, look for the Crop tool.
Other Status Letters – The SERA Program does not provide status letters for other reasons.
Last updated: 4/21/2022