Evolution Series 

Housing and Land Use

Local Strategies to Protect Tenants and Prevent Homelessness in Bay Area COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Programs (ERAPs)
Local Strategies to Protect Tenants and Prevent Homelessness in Bay Area COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Programs (ERAPs)

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit low-income tenants in the Bay Area hard, exacerbating the region’s severe housing affordability crisis. Approximately 140,000 households are behind on rent, owing nearly half a billion dollars. 


This has serious ramifications for health and well-being, especially for BIPOC households that have faced decades of inequitable housing and economic policies. Black, Latinx, and Pacific Islander communities in California currently face a 20% higher COVID-19 death rate than the statewide average, driven in part by unstable and crowded housing conditions. ii These same communities are more likely to be faced with choosing between paying for essential medical care, food, and rent. 


Fortunately, new rental assistance resources have recently been approved, providing a critical down payment toward the full scope of what is needed to stabilize the communities hit hardest by the pandemic. In December 2020, the federal government approved $2.6 billion to California for rental relief as part of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). In January 2021, California enacted SB 91, which among other things, provided local jurisdictions with populations over 200,000 three options for utilizing their portion of these federal funds