Rent & Utility Assistance

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County of Santa Barbara Community Services

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The County of Santa Barbara is offering Emergency Rental & Utility Assistance through United Way of Santa Barbara County to eligible residents who have experienced a loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic and can demonstrate the need for rental support. The program is intended to prevent homelessness by providing rent assistance to residents. 

The application portal closed on March 31, 2022. We are no longer accepting applications for the Rental and utility Assistance Program.

If you submitted an application before March 31, 2022 your application will remain active on the waitlist. If you submitted your application for rental and utility assistance before March 31, 2022, you remain protected under the Tenant Protection Rights until June 30, 2022. We appreciate your patience as our team works through a very high volume of applications. Please be aware that processing applications can take several months.

For legal advice, contact the Legal Aid Foundation at (805) 963-6754.

For questions regarding the Housing is Key California COVID-19 Rent Relief State Program, click here.  

The Emergency Rent Assistance Program is intended to prevent homelessness by providing rent assistance to residents who experienced a loss of income due to, or during, coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.  Program applicants at or below 50% AMI will be prioritized for assistance and offered additional housing counseling services. Previous awardees are eligible to receive additional funding by submitting a new application. 

  • One or more individuals within the household has qualified for unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship during or due, directly or indirectly, to the coronavirus pandemic
  • one or more individuals within the household can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability.
  • Must provide proof of residency in Santa Barbara County.
  • Must provide a copy of the lease agreement or landlord confirmation if the lease is not available. Documentation must include the amount of rent and all individuals on the lease. 
  • For utility payments, the applicant must provide documentation of bills. 
  • Households income (households include all individuals on the lease agreement, related or not)  must be 80% or below the Area Median Income for Santa Barbara County. See HOUSEHOLD INCOME LIMIT 
    • Program applicants at 50% or below the Area Median Income will be prioritized. 
  • Documentation of prior 2 months of income


If applicants are not able to provide documentation validated the amount of their rent, we may process an award up to a monthly maximum of 100 percent of the greater Fair Market Rent or the Small Area Fair Market Rent for the rental unit. This means that the award may be less than the amount of the rent a tenant pays. Additionally, the award granted under these terms is limited to three months at a time. 

For relocation awards, rent reasonableness reviews will be conducted to determine whether the proposed rent is reasonable compared to similar units in the marketplace. In determining comparability, the following factors will be taken into consideration where appropriate and practical:

  • Location
  • Quality
  • Size
  • Unit Type
  • Amenities
  • Housing Services
  • Amenities
  • Utilities the owner must provide under the lease.

The monthly rent of a unit must not exceed 40% of the household’s monthly income.


To apply, the income of a household (all individuals on the lease agreement, related or unrelated) must be at or below 80% AMI (area median income).

Individuals per household - Income

  • 1 - $70,050
  • 2 - $80,050
  • 3 - $90,050
  • 4 - $100,050
  • 5 - $108,100
  • 6 - $116,100
  • 7 - $124,100
  • 8 - $132,100 
  1. Once you have submitted an application, you will receive a confirmation email. 
    • If you have not received a confirmation email, please check your spam box and/or refresh your browser. 
    • If you have still not received a confirmation email, please contact us at 805-965-8591.
  2. After applications are submitted, they will be reviewed for eligibility. 
  3. If an application is determined to be eligible for processing, a scheduler from the Family Service agency will contact the applicant to schedule an interview. The scheduler will remind the applicant to prepare all necessary forms of documentation to present during the scheduled interview.
  4. During the scheduled interview, the case manager will review the application and all supporting documentation.
  5. United Way of Santa Barbara County will make a final determination of award. 
  6. United Way of Santa Barbara County will make rent and utilities payments directly to the landlord or the utility company. The applicant will receive an award letter in the mail detailing the amount and designated months of their award.  

Please have all documentation ready at the time of your interview. 

Once your application has been received and reviewed to confirm eligibility, a case manager will contact you to schedule an interview. Make sure to provide a current phone number and email address to avoid delays.

For more information or to view additional funding opportunities, please visit

Questions? Click the button for answers to common questions and contact information.