County of Marin - News Releases - Rental Assistance

For Immediate Release
March 24, 2021

Applications Open for Rental Assistance

Those experiencing hardship because of pandemic may use new online tool

San Rafael, CA – The online application period is now open for Marin County renters who have experienced economic hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic. There is $16 million to distribute as part of the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act, intended to prevent evictions and homelessness.

An artistic graphic showing a caricature of a house and a piece of paper moneyThe influx of funding will be channeled directly to landlords to cover past tenant rent and utilities.
The Marin County Board of Supervisors accepted the funding during its February 9 and March 9 meetings, and money will be channeled directly to landlords to cover past tenant rent and utilities.

The state’s Business, Consumer Services & Housing Agency estimates as many as 1.5 million California renters are behind on rent for reasons tied to the pandemic. Clearing accumulated debt is designed to provide a lifeline to the hardest-hit families and provide income stability for landlords. In Marin, over 3,000 people have contacted the County for help with unpaid rent related to the pandemic.

Communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and are often at the highest risk of housing displacement.

“Those most in need of pandemic-related rental assistance often face the most barriers to access a program like this,” said Leelee Thomas, CDA Planning Manager. “Sometimes it comes down to communication in multiple languages and hands-on assistance. As this distribution of funds gets underway, we will continually watch for new barriers and adjust as needed to ensure equitable distribution of funds.”

Local landlords have a choice to accept 80% of unpaid rent owed between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021, in exchange for forgiving the remaining  20%. If a landlord chooses not to accept the offer, tenants may still apply for relief valued at 25% of unpaid back rent owed for the covered period.

The $16 million was on top of nearly $6 million in local funding already allocated. Marin’s safety-net rental assistance program started in March 2020 when the Marin County Board of Supervisors approved a local relief fund partnership with the Marin Community Foundation (MCF) to support the most financially needy local residents during COVID-19.

A household of three with an income at or below $125,000 a year is eligible if they are qualified for unemployment benefits, experienced a reduction in income, incurred significant COVID-related costs, are at risk of homelessness or endured other financial hardship due to the coronavirus. Priority is given to households that  are considered extremely low income, which in Marin would be a family of three with an income of no more than $43,550.

To prevent virus-related homelessness, the Supervisors passed local eviction moratoriums several times over the past year before the state enacted its own evictions ban. Most recently, the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution January 12 that continues to bar evictions through June for people economically impacted by the coronavirus. State legislation has since superseded the local ban.

Earlier, the County created a new phone number and email address to guide residents who may need assistance with the online application.. Anyone needing help  with the online application may call (415) 473-2223 or email staff to learn more about the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which is open for applications.


Lisa Henry
Rental Assistance Co-coordinator
Community Development Agency

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite 303
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 299-4531
Email: Lisa Henry
Rental Assistance webpage