From the Desk of Karen Mitchoff

Renters need to be aware of COVID ­relief options

From the Desk of Karen MitchoffCONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Oct. 15, 2021) — With the sunset of state and local eviction moratoriums on Sept. 30, Contra Costa County is still working hard to make sure that families that have been most impacted by the pandemic can access rental assistance.

Behind masking and vaccination, keeping people housed is the third most effective intervention to keep COVID at bay.

Though blanket eviction moratoriums are no longer in effect, the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program is providing support to eligible tenants and landlords, and there is still time to apply.

If you have had trouble paying your rent due to COVID-19, you can still qualify for rental assistance. The easiest way to learn more or apply is by calling 833-430-2122.

The Rent Relief Program pays eligible tenants and landlords 100 percent of a tenant’s past-due rent and utilities going as far back as April 1, 2020. Having your overdue rent paid by the Rent Relief Program can protect you from eviction and debt collection lawsuits. The program is free and does not currently have a deadline. But because funding may be limited, renters are encouraged to apply as soon as possible if they know they may struggle to cover past or prospective rent and utilities.

The program prioritizes those receiving rental assistance funds based on Area Media Income (AMI). The goal has been to reach those with AMIs of 30 percent (extremely low income) to 50 percent (very low income). For Contra Costa, a family of four at 30 percent AMI would have household income of $39,150. A family of four at 50 percent AMI would have household income of $65,250.

Beginning Oct. 1, 2021, landlords must apply for rental assistance before they can try to evict anyone through the courts for failing to pay rent. Although landlords may give a renter notice to “pay or quit” (which gives a renter a certain amount of time to pay the outstanding rent or vacate) at any time, they will not be able to legally evict anyone without first applying to the CA COVID-19 Rent Relief Program.

If you receive a notice to “pay or quit,” it is strongly recommended that you immediately get legal assistance to determine and protect your rights. If your notice to “pay or quit” includes a “Declaration of COVID-19 related financial distress” and you have been financially

impacted by the pandemic, you should sign and return the declaration to your landlord within 15 business days to bolster your protections.

It is important that people apply for rental assistance within 15 business days of receiving a “pay or quit” notice, or within 15 business days of receiving a notice from the CA COVID-19 Rent Relief Program that a landlord has started an application on your behalf.

It is also recommended that people notify their landlords once they have applied for rental assistance, as this step can help renters in both eviction and rental debt collection lawsuits.

To learn more about this program or to apply, call 833-430-2122 or visit For additional assistance, please give my office a call at 925-521-7100 or email

Karen Mitchoff is Contra Costa County District IV supervisor.