As the COVID-19 pandemic continue to adversely affect low-income and vulnerable communities of color, the Alameda County’s Emergency Rental Assistance Programs (ERAP)  are scaling up resources to provide relief to somehow alleviate the plight of those in dire need.

Odette Keeley moderated the virtual press brief where a panel of policymakers and community leaders throughout Alameda County discussed with stakeholders for communities of color disproportionately threatened by these crises how ERAP can help. 

The safety net program provides funds for income-eligible households to pay up to 15 months of rent and utilities. Landlords with fewer than five rental units are especially encouraged to apply. 

The panelists reiterated that the COVID crisis remains a dual pandemic of public health and structural disparity that are disproportionately impacting people of color .And that in Alameda County the second pandemic includes pervasive housing inequity.  

According to Bay Area Equity Atlas Fact Sheet: Preventing Eviction and Indebtedness, close to 90 percent of the estimated 34,000 tenants in January 2021 who are behind on rent are people of color. These systemic disparities are yet again exposed and exacerbated by the pandemic and economic fallout.     

It was also learned that 827 of 5,404 applications received were approved, $12,474,300 of $100,136,361 amount of financial assistance requested were given the green light with a $15,084 average amount of financial assistance while 4,577 applications are in process and under review.

Alameda County Community Development Agency Deputy Director of Housing Division Jennifer Pearce announced that the County is administering their own program (except for Oakland and Fremont that are on their own) in partnership with Centro Legal de Raza. 

Those who wish to apply may know more at and are urged to do so right away to start the process. 

“The county is receiving approximately $130 million or an estimated million dollars a week of rental assistance. Those who earn less than 80 percent of area median income(AMI) can qualify,” Pearce added. “Right now the county is in Phase 1 that focuses on three categories: extremely low-income residents who are under 30 percent of AMI who are most at risk of homelessness “

Phase 2 involves those who earn up to 80 percent of AMI and are urged to apply to be included on the queue for application. 

Among those in the housing categories that are also being given focus in the program are those owned by landlords with five or less units. The so-called mom and pop landlords and those who lives and are subsidized by affordable housing projects.  

“We are now working with some 24 outreach organizations to get that word out all across the county and all different population. Eligible beneficiaries may also dial 211 not only for application and status of their application,” Pearce continued. 

The other panelists were Centro Legal de Raza’s Monique Berlanga, City of Oakland’s Cookie Robles-Wong, City of Fremont’s Paula Manczuk-Hannay, Eviction Defense Center’s Eric Magana, and Afghan Coalition’s Rona Popal. 

Alameda County Housing Secure is a collaborative of legal service providers partnering to prevent the displacement of its most vulnerable community members throughout Alameda County.

Centro Legal de la Raza, the Eviction Defense Center, Bay Area Legal Aid, and Housing and Economic Rights Advocates provide free legal services to low-income tenants and homeowners disproportionately impacted by the region’s housing affordability crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.