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 County of Santa Barbara residents, that have experienced a loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic and can demonstrate the need for rental support. This Emergency Rent Assistance Program is intended to prevent homelessness by providing rent assistance to residents. 

The Program will provide a rent subsidy for qualifying households currently living in rental units who cannot pay rent because of a loss or reduction of income due to COVID-19. This assistance may cover arrears dating back to March 13, 2020, and thereafter up to 3-months of current or prospective rent.  Qualifying households are eligible to thereafter re-apply for an additional 3-months of rent assistance, up to a total of 15-months.

Assistance payments to applicants will be paid directly to landlord and/or utility providers on behalf of the applicant.

There are strict eligibility requirements for this funding opportunity, please review below.  

  • Must provide proof of residency in Santa Barbara County.
  • Must provide copy of lease agreement or landlord confirmation if lease is not available. Documentation must include amount of rent and all individuals on the lease. 
  • Qualifying residents must already reside in permanent housing and have been timely paying monthly rent up to March 1, 2020.
    • This assistance is NOT intended for move-ins, including payment of security deposits, or assistance for residents who wish to move from one unit to another. 
  • For utility payments, applicant must provide documentation of bills. 
  • Households income (households include all individuals on 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. 
  • Must demonstrate loss of income related to COVID-19 for the entire household:
    • Documentation of prior 2 months of income

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

Individuals per household - Income

  • 1 - $66,750
  • 2 - $76,250
  • 3 - $85,800
  • 4 - $95,300
  • 5 - $102,950
  • 6 - $110,550
  • 7 - $118,200
  • 8 - $125,800 


  • After applications are submitted, they will be reviewed for eligibility. 
  • 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.
  • During the scheduled interview, the case manager will review the application and all supporting documentation.
  • United Way of Santa Barbara County will make a final determination of award. 
  • 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.  

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


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