SF ERAP Frequently Asked Questions

What is SF ERAP?

The San Francisco Emergency Rental Assistance Program (SF ERAP) is a community-based program jointly administered by the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development and the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing aimed at keeping the City’s most at-risk tenants in their homes as part of the City and County of San Francisco’s anti-displacement and homelessness prevention efforts.

What types of assistance are provided by SF ERAP?

  • Back rent accrued because of a financial hardship which has impacted household’s ability to pay rent within 6 months of applying for assistance*
  • Limited future rent**
  • Move-in assistance within or outside San Francisco (may include security deposit and first and last months’ rent)

*On a case-by-case basis, tenants who have received eviction papers may not be subject to this restriction. Tenant must currently occupy the rental unit.

**Please connect with an SF ERAP case manager to confirm your eligibility for future rent assistance.

I haven’t heard back about my SF ERAP application, what should I do?

Due to the high volume of applications, it may take two weeks or longer to hear back about your application. In the meantime, ensure that you have all the required documents. If you selected a specific SF ERAP Provider to work with on your application, you may reach out to them to ask about the status of your application. You may also contact the SF ERAP Helpline at (415) 653-5744 or help@sferap.org.

What do I do if I can’t afford next month’s rent?

SF ERAP may be able to assist with limited future rent. Apply at www.sferap.com to be screened for eligibility. You will not be asked about your future rent needs in the online application. Please complete the application anyway as you will be contacted after you have submitted the application and a full assessment of your rental assistance needs will be conducted at that time. Please note: if you have a housing subsidy in which your rent payments are determined based on your income, such as Permanent Supportive Housing or Housing Choice Voucher/Section 8, you are not eligible for future rent through SF ERAP. Please work with your housing program to help stabilize your housing situation.

What do I do if I need financial assistance to move into a rental unit?

Apply for move-in assistance through SF ERAP at www.sferap.com. Qualified households can receive assistance with move-in costs required by the landlord, such as security deposit and first and last month’s rent for a unit they have already identified and are planning to move into. SF ERAP can assist qualified households who are moving within or outside of San Francisco but cannot help with finding housing.

What do I do if I need utility assistance?

SF ERAP does not currently provide financial assistance for utilities, unless utilities are included in your rent and paid to your landlord. You may be eligible for assistance programs provided by PG&E or the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SF PUC).

What do I do if I’ve received an eviction notice (such as a “3 Day Notice to Pay or Quit”)?

Please contact a tenant counselor at any of the agencies listed under ‘Get help from a tenant counselor’ on the community partners page.

What do I do if I’ve received eviction court papers (aka “Unlawful Detainer”)?

You only have 5 days to file a response with the court. Those days do not include Saturdays, Sundays, or court holidays. Please contact the Eviction Defense Collaborative’s (EDC) at (415)659-9184 or email legal@evictiondefense.org immediately after receiving court papers. Financial assistance may be available if you are in court facing eviction – contact EDC to learn more.

Am I still eligible for SF ERAP if I received financial assistance from another program or an earlier version of SF ERAP?

You may still be eligible for assistance through SF ERAP for months not already covered by another program. The case manager assigned to your SF ERAP application will help determine your eligibility. Please be aware that SF ERAP rules changed in February 2023; past issuance of SF ERAP assistance is not a guarantee of assistance under the current program.

Will SF ERAP ask about my immigration status?

No. Eligible households are encouraged to apply, regardless of immigration status, and assistance is not considered in a public charge determination.

What proof will I need to provide SF ERAP?

SF ERAP requires verification of the following:

  • Personal identification
  • Verification of where you live
  • Verification of household income
  • Verification of rent owed or move-in assistance needed
  • Proof of recent financial hardship (if applying for back rent assistance)

Click here for examples of acceptable documents.

What do I do if I don’t have all the required paperwork?

Please submit your SF ERAP application, coordinate with your landlord/master tenant, and do your best to gather as many documents as possible. This will speed up your application processing time. The case manager assigned to you will work with you to gather the necessary documents.

How often can I apply for SF ERAP?

You may be eligible for assistance through SF ERAP once per calendar year. You are encouraged to work with our SF ERAP Providers any time you experience income and/or housing instability. SF ERAP has financial assistance limits, but Providers may be able to help you access other financial assistance programs, legal services, employment services, etc.

Who is considered part of my 'household'?

‘Household’ refers to a single person or group of people living together who depend on the same income or share income (regardless of marital status, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity). Others living in the same home who you do not share income with (such as roommates), but who need rental assistance, should apply as separate households. Please note that ‘Household’ includes children who may be temporarily away from the home because of placement in foster care.

What if I’m sub-leasing my home through a master tenant?

SF ERAP can help cover your missed rent even if you are a sub-tenant. In those cases, payment will be provided directly to the master tenant to whom you are paying rent, or to the owner of the residence. Your assigned case manager will conduct a full assessment of your situation. 

How will my rent be paid through SF ERAP?

If your application is approved, your landlord/master tenant will receive a check from one of our SF ERAP Providers. If your landlord/master tenant refuses to participate in the program, your case manager will work with you to identify other ways to provide rental assistance.

What do I do if I need financial assistance but am ineligible for SF ERAP or have maxed out the amount of financial assistance available?

You are encouraged to work with our SF ERAP Providers any time you experience income and/or housing instability to help you access additional assistance, such as other financial assistance programs, legal services, employment services, etc.

Can I appeal a decision by an SF ERAP Provider if I disagree with the determination?

Beginning in July 2023, any applicant can request a secondary review of their application if they were denied assistance from SF ERAP or believe they were issued less assistance than they were eligible to receive. Applicants must request a secondary review within 15 business days of receiving their application status determination.

However, secondary reviews can only be requested for a limited number of reasons. Applicants may not request a secondary review to change or dispute program rules. The secondary review decision is final and may not be appealed.

You may view and download the SF ERAP Request for Secondary Review form here.

I’m a landlord with a tenant who owes rent. Can I apply for SF ERAP?

Landlords cannot apply to SF ERAP on behalf of their tenants. If you have a tenant who needs rental assistance, encourage them to apply to SF ERAP at www.sferap.com themselves or with the help of a community partner. As a landlord, you may reach out to the San Francisco Apartment Association or a professional neutral such as a mediator with the Bar Association of San Francisco (CIS Program at (415) 782-8940 or cis@sfbar.org) for additional support. 

I’m a tenant with rental debt and my current/former landlord is taking me to small claims or civil court to collect this debt?

While tenants may be protected from eviction under certain circumstances, the rental debt is still owed – it is not forgiven. Speak with an attorney with Bay Area Legal Aid’s Rental Debt Legal Clinic (held every fourth Friday).  Call (415) 982-1300 to make an appointment.

Last updated August 16, 2023