SAJE Lawsuit Demands Equal Access to Emergency Rental Assistance

By SAJE Staff

June 9, 2022

On June 6, SAJE, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, and PolicyLink jointly filed suit against the California Department of Housing and Community Development. Our lawsuit contends that the department is not providing due process and equal access to low-income tenants seeking emergency rental assistance to stay in their homes and off the streets. Last year, the department was charged with distributing $5.2 billion of federal rental assistance funds intended to keep struggling tenants housed during the pandemic. But the department’s flawed administration of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) is violating tenants’ due-process rights and disproportionately harming tenants on the basis of race, color, and national origin, leading to unnecessary evictions. 

ERAP applicants who have limited English proficiency, especially those from Asian and Latinx communities, face barriers in accessing assistance because of the department’s lack of adequate interpretation services and its failure to properly translate the application and follow-up notifications. And, when renters are denied assistance, the department does not provide access to the documents or information on which the denial was based, which means tenants have no way to meaningfully contest the ruling. While the department issued just a few denials in the early months of ERAP, beginning in April 2022, the rate of denials increased dramatically. As of May 25, 2022, HCD has denied nearly 140,000 tenants assistance – 25% of the total applications submitted. These denials subject tenants to unnecessary eviction and exacerbate underlying racial disparities in eviction rates.

To read the full petition, click here.