Sacramento Emergency Rental Assistance (SERA) Program FAQs
The SERA Program will provide emergency rental assistance to the residents of the City of Sacramento and unincorporated County of Sacramento who have experienced a loss or reduction of wages as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This program is being administered by the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency (SHRA) on behalf of the City and County of Sacramento through funding provided by federal Coronavirus funds.
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:
- Show employment income lost or decreased due to COVID-19.
- Rent their home in the City of Sacramento or unincorporated County of Sacramento.
- Have a written lease or rental agreement and utility bill verifying tenancy.
- Household current income is at or below 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI).
- Not reside in public housing funded by Public Housing Authorities, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), or the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
- Not receive other ongoing government rental assistance (Section 8/Housing Choice Vouchers, Permanent Supportive Housing, or Section 811).
What are the income requirements?
Current household income must be at or below 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI). Income guidelines are as follows:
Are applicants helped on a first-come, first-served basis?
No. After the application deadline, all applications will be put in a computerized random order.
Will any applications be given priority?
Priority will be given to:
- Families with minor children.
- Households where the current income is 30% of the Area Median Income (AMI). Income guidelines are as follows:
- Completed applications with all necessary documentation.
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.
HOW TO APPLY
When can I apply for the SERA Program?
Applications will be accepted online from October 9, 2020, through October 22, 2020.
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. An email will be sent in October to everyone who submits an application stating whether you are eligible or not (see eligibility criteria above) and explaining the next steps.
Step 4: Applicants will be notified when they are selected to begin the review process. 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. Staff will contact your landlord to confirm your tenancy and any rent owed. The landlord will submit required documentation.
Step 6: The rental payment is sent directly to the landlord. You will be notified of the payment.
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.
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?
Yes. The online application will be available in 6 languages: English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Hmong, Russian, and Chinese.
How often can I apply?
Once. Duplicate applications will be removed. This is a one-time benefit to assist very low-income renters in the City and unincorporated County of Sacramento who have experienced a loss or reduction of wages as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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.
Can my landlord refuse to participate and not accept the funds?
Yes. Your landlord cannot be forced to participate in the program or to accept funds. The rental assistance payment cannot be provided to the landlord unless they submit the necessary forms. If your landlord declines to accept the funds, your application cannot be processed.
What should I do if I want to change my submitted application or upload documents I didn’t have when I originally applied?
You can log in from October 9, 2020, through October 22, 2020, and select the Modify button to open your application. You can then make changes or upload documents and re-submit your updated application.
If I need assistance filling out my application, whom can I contact?
Beginning October 9th, applicants can email email@example.com or call (916) 449-1266 for assistance. They can also receive help uploading required documents and other technical assistance in person at 816 Revere Street (Alder Grove) and 480 Redwood Avenue, between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., M-F from October 9th – October 22nd.
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.
- Use the Report Problem button in the bottom of the application.
- Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What documents will I need to provide in the application?
We ask for documentation to verify your identity, social security number, current income, rental address, any past due rent owed, and employment prior to COVID-19.
What documents are acceptable to verify employment before the COVID- 19 pandemic?
Pay stubs, bank statements, or a verification letter from your employer.
What documents can I submit to show proof of my current income?
The income you declare in the application must be supported through documentation. Please submit verification for all income received during the month of October 2020, which may include:
- Public Aid Income Letter with dollar amount (SNAP, TANF, etc.)
- Social Security Income/SSI/SSDI Income current benefits letter
- Pension/Annuity Income
- Paycheck stubs or employer’s letter on letterhead stating gross monthly income
- Unemployment benefit documents
- Child support documents
- VA Benefits
- Other wages (self-employed or 1099 contractors)
What can I submit to show I am renting?
You must provide a current signed and dated lease or rental agreement that shows you and your family can live in your current residence. If you don’t have a lease or rental agreement, you can ask your landlord to sign the SERA Rental Agreement document.
NEXT STEPS AFTER APPLYING
When will I hear about the status of my application?
You can check on the status of your application at the end of October at www.shra.org/sera.
What if the amount of rental assistance received does not cover the total amount of rent owed?
If you still owe outstanding rent to your landlord, you are encouraged to enter into a repayment agreement with your landlord for any past-due rent that exceeds your rent assistance payment. Resources to help facilitate this agreement:
RECEIVING THE EMERGENCY RENTAL ASSISTANCE ONCE AWARDED
When will payments be made?
Payments will be made in November and December, 2020.
Will payments be made to me, or to my landlord or property owner?
Payments for your rent will be paid directly to the landlord or property owner.
How much is the assistance?
Eligible applicants will be eligible to receive in total up to $4,000 in rental assistance paid directly to the landlord. The total assistance amount available will depend on household need.
LANDLORDS AND PROPERTY OWNERS
Can I apply for the rental assistance on behalf of my tenant?
No. The tenant must qualify for the program based on their household composition and income, but property owners are encouraged to refer their tenants to apply.
Can I apply the rental assistance payment for unpaid rent or current rent owed?
The rental assistance payment you receive is to pay on rent owed. It cannot be applied to late charges or fees.
Will my tenant receive the rental assistance?
No. The rental assistance payment will be paid directly to the property owner by direct deposit.
Will I receive a 1099?
Yes. IRS rules require a 1099 to be issued for rental assistance payments.
Will I need to provide a W-9?
Yes. The property owner will need to provide a W-9.
Will I receive one payment or monthly payments?
The property owner will typically receive one payment for up to $4,000 for rent owed.