Program Overview

The San Francisco Emergency Rental Assistance Program (SF ERAP) is jointly managed by the San Francisco Department of Homelessness & Supportive Housing (HSH) and the Mayor’s Office of Housing & Community Development (MOHCD) and operated by community partners across the City. The Program aims to prevent households from experiencing homelessness and being displaced. To accomplish this, SF ERAP provides financial assistance to San Francisco residents at high risk of homelessness or housing loss who have past-due rent; cannot afford move-in costs; and/or need assistance with future rent to maintain their housing.

In February 2023, SF ERAP instituted new program rules, including updated eligibility and selection criteria, as described below. Additionally, financial assistance is now available once per calendar year.

This document provides an overview of program rules for SF ERAP and is not an exhaustive list of all rules and requirements.

Program Rules

Eligibility Criteria

To be considered for financial assistance, applicants must meet the Program’s eligibility criteria AND be among households at highest risk of experiencing homelessness or housing loss (see selection criteria below). Due to limited program funding, meeting the eligibility criteria below does not by itself guarantee financial assistance. Households must also meet the program’s selection criteria.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Current resident of San Francisco
  • Household income at or below 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI) for the applicant’s household size:
    • 1-member household = $5,421
    • 2-member household = $6,196
    • 3-member household = $6,971
    • 4-member household = $7,742
    • 5-member household = $8,363
    • 6-member household = $8,983
    • 7-member household = $9,600
    • 8-member household = $10,221
  • If applying for back/future rent: Applicants must have experienced a recent financial hardship within 12 months prior to application date. The financial hardship may be a loss of income and/or significant and unexpected increase in expenses. Financial hardship must be documented and proportional to rent owed.
  • Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH), Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), and HOPE SF tenants only: Tenants in these housing programs must work with their property management and onsite services before applying to confirm their eligibility. Special processes apply for tenants in these programs, detailed below.
  • Tenants with an Unlawful Detainer: Tenants who have received an Unlawful Detainer (eviction lawsuit) may be screened for financial assistance under different eligibility and selection criteria. These include the tenant’s ongoing ability to pay rent, the length and type of tenancy, and various household vulnerability factors. Tenants who have received an Unlawful Detainer should immediately contact the Eviction Defense Collaborative to be assessed for legal and financial assistance.

Citizenship is not a requirement of the Program, and an applicant should never be asked about or required to show proof of immigration status or U.S. citizenship.

Selection Criteria: High Risk of Homelessness or Housing Loss

In addition to meeting the eligibility criteria above, SF ERAP is only able to provide financial assistance to households at the highest risk of homelessness or housing loss. This is based on a household’s application responses, which indicate the household’s relationship to certain research-based risk factors.

These risk factors include:

  • Past and current housing status, including experience of homelessness and/or eviction;
  • Household characteristics, including having a household member with a disability or who is pregnant, a senior, or has young children; and
  • Other factors associated with higher risk of homelessness or housing loss, including immigration status, physical and mental health risks, and experience with the criminal justice system.

Households at the highest risk of homelessness or housing loss will likely have multiple risk factors. Households with fewer risk factors are unlikely to receive financial assistance at this time.

These risk factors were determined by the City based on local and national research, community input, and consultation with homelessness and eviction experts. As more funding becomes available for the program, the City may be able to provide financial assistance to a higher percentage of eligible applicants.

Please note that meeting minimum eligibility requirements and being at risk of homelessness or housing loss does not guarantee receiving financial assistance from SF ERAP.

Types of Assistance Provided Through SF ERAP

Back Rent/Future Rent Assistance: Eligible households can receive assistance for back rent and/or limited future rent (up to 3 months). Amount provided will depend on rent owed, financial hardship, and other factors.

Move-in Assistance: Eligible households can receive assistance with move-in costs required by the landlord, such as security deposit and first and last months’ rent, for a unit they have already identified and are planning to move into. SF ERAP can assist eligible households who are moving within or outside of San Francisco. These households may also be eligible for up to 3 months of future rent. SF ERAP cannot cover other moving expenses such as a moving truck or moving company.

Utilities Assistance: Eligible households can receive assistance with essential utilities (water, gas, electricity, trash, sewer, and internet) IF they are paid to the landlord (i.e., included in the rental ledger, on the lease, or otherwise documented). Utilities assistance can only be issued as part of the rental assistance provided and cannot be covered on their own. SF ERAP does not cover parking and/or pet fees.

Other Housing Fees/Charges: Additional fees related to Unlawful Detainers, such as legal and late fees, will be considered on a case-by-case basis. SF ERAP does not cover housing application fees.

Assistance Limit

  • Eligible households may receive up to $7,500 in financial assistance for no more than 12 months of rent. If circumstances warrant special consideration, with an approved waiver, a household may receive limited additional assistance.
    • Amount provided will depend on rent or move-in costs owed, financial hardship, and other factors.
  • If the household or landlord cannot provide proof of rent owed, the household may be eligible for up to $3,750.
  • Assistance is only available once per calendar year.
  • If a household received assistance for an application submitted prior to SF ERAP’s 2023 Reopening (February 28, 2023), this does not count towards their 2023 assistance limit and they can receive additional assistance, subject to meeting all eligibility and selection criteria.

Eligible Housing Types

The following types of housing are eligible for SF ERAP assistance:

  • Apartment unit, room, or area rented within an apartment
  • House, room, or area rented within a house
  • Residential hotel unit in which tenant has a lease agreement (such as an SRO)
  • Recreational Vehicle (RV) – must be connected to water and parked in a permissible location

The following types of housing are not eligible for SF ERAP assistance:

  • Tourist hotel units (unless applicant has been there more than 28 days and has established tenancy under the Rent Ordinance)
  • Shelter, transitional housing program, or other temporary housing
  • Halfway house
  • Student housing (unless resident occupies unit as an employee or former student)
  • Residential health facilities

Required Documentation

The following documents are required to receive financial assistance:

  1. One form of personal identification
  2. Income verification for all household members over the age of 18 with income
  3. Proof of residency in San Francisco
  4. Proof of unpaid rent or move-in costs owed
  5. Signed W-9 form from landlord or master tenant
  6. If applying for back rent assistance: Proof of financial hardship within last 12 months

Examples of accepted documents can be found here. If an applicant is not able to provide these documents, SF ERAP will work with them to identify other options.

Additional Program Rules for RAD, HOPE SF and Permanent Supportive Housing Tenants

RAD, HOPE SF, and PSH tenants are eligible for back rent assistance but are not eligible for future rent assistance. To qualify for back rent assistance, households living in Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), HOPE SF, or Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) units must meet the following requirements before applying:

  1. Enter into a payment plan* to cover unpaid rent; AND
  2. Make at least three consecutive rent contribution payments; AND
  3. Make at least three payments towards their payment plan (or an equivalent lump-sum payment).

* If tenant’s annual household income has been certified as $0 and therefore monthly rent contribution and payment plan installment amounts are $0, then tenant participation in three consecutive monthly case management meetings will satisfy this requirement in lieu of three consecutive monthly rent contribution payments and payment plan installments (or lump-sum payment).

Once these requirements are met, households in RAD, HOPE SF and PSH units do not have to meet eligibility requirements related to household income or recent financial hardship. Tenants who meet these requirements must work with their resident services staff and/or property management to submit an SF ERAP application. Tenants in these programs must complete and submit the online application with Services/Management. Tenants who submit the application on their own will be denied.

As part of the tenant’s SF ERAP application, Services/Management must upload the following documentation:
               • Completed and signed SF ERAP Subsidized Housing Referral Form
               • Up-to-date rent ledger demonstrating you have made the required payments
               • Completed W9

Secondary Review Policy

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.

Secondary reviews can be requested using this form and must be requested for one of the reasons listed on the form. Applicants may not request a secondary review to change or dispute program rules.

Applicants requesting a secondary review should expect to hear back within 10 business days of submitting their request. The secondary review decision is final and may not be appealed.

Duplication of Benefits Policy

Duplication of benefits occurs when a household receives assistance from two or more programs to cover the same costs, such as rental assistance for the same time period. SF ERAP does not permit the duplication of benefits and applicants must attest that they have not received assistance for the same costs for which they seek assistance from the Program.

Duplicative benefits that are obtained fraudulently or based on inaccurate information (such as ineligibility or amounts covered by other programs) must be repaid to the City and County of San Francisco. Households receiving duplicative benefits from SF ERAP are personally liable for such repayment and failure to repay may result in prosecution.

Selected Program Definitions

  • Applicant: A person who, for themselves (1-person household) or for their family (multiple-person household), applies for assistance under the San Francisco Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
  • Area Median Income: The area median income (AMI) is the household income for a region's median (middle) household. SF ERAP utilizes AMI limits for households published in accordance with 42 U.S.C. 1437a(b)(2), available under the heading for “Access Individual Income Limits Areas” for San Francisco County, CA found here.
    • Note: SF ERAP uses “adjusted” limits, unlike the higher “unadjusted” limits used by other City housing programs, such as the Inclusionary Housing Below Market Rate (BMR) Rental Program.
  • Household: 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 the applicant does not share income with (such as roommates), but who need rental assistance, should apply as separate households.
    • Note: ‘Household’ includes children who may be temporarily away from the home because of placement in foster care.
  • Literal Homelessness: Literal homelessness is defined as an individual or family living in a shelter designed to provide temporary living arrangements, or with a primary nighttime residence that is a place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings, such as a car, recreational vehicle, abandoned building, in an unauthorized dwelling unit, on the street, etc. For the purposes of SF ERAP, literal homelessness does not include persons who are “doubled-up” in the homes of family or friends; individuals staying in jails, hospitals or treatment facilities; or households with minor children living in single room occupancy (SRO) units.
  • Master Tenant: A tenant of a rental unit, with or without a written lease, who is legally responsible for the entire rent and who subleases a portion of the unit to an SF ERAP applicant. If the applicant is a subtenant, then the master tenant should be treated as the landlord for the purposes of financial assistance payment and verification documentation. If the applicant is the master tenant, then the landlord should be treated as the landlord.
  • Provider/Community Partner: A contracted agency that is funded to provide rental assistance and/or other services in support of SF ERAP.
Last updated December 7, 2023