Quick Take:

California’s eviction moratorium expires today. Fortunately, there are options available for additional rental support — here’s how to find those resources and how to apply. Locally, there are millions left available to those who need it.

The day has come: As of midnight Sept. 30, California’s eviction moratorium will expire, an anxiety-producing moment for the estimated 724,000 households behind on rent because of financial issues related to COVID-19.

In Santa Cruz County, advocates estimate that at least 5,000 households are behind on rent and at risk of eviction. Under AB 832, tenants are protected from eviction based on nonpayment of rent from April 2020 through the end of September. However, if tenants do not pay rent beginning Oct. 1, landlords are eligible to take tenants to small claims court the following month.

Officials from local organizations, including the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz, Watsonville Law Center and Community Bridges, say they have been working to let people know about money available for strapped renters.

Stacey Marie Garcia of the Community Foundation said tenants should apply for the Housing is Key and Emergency Rental Assistance Program. Doing so after Sept. 30 will reduce the protections they might have otherwise received.

The program can help cover upwards of 15 months of owed rent, three months of future rent, and 12 months of past-due utilities.

Community Bridges CEO Raymon Cancino noted that “millions of dollars are still available” for renters and rental assistance.

“Although you might not have the rental protections in place any longer, you will still be eligible to receive support against your debt or rent,” he said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the state’s COVID-19 Rent Relief program had received only 1,778 applications in Santa Cruz County — a slight uptick from last week. Of the $21.6 million available, about $6.2 million has been claimed.

For tenants who receive eviction notices following the moratorium’s deadline, John Subranni of the Watsonville Law Center said they should “reach out to the court’s self-help center or a legal aid organization for assistance.”

Other groups offering help include: the Community Action Board, Families in Transition, La Manzana Community Resources, Live Oak Community Resources, Mountain Community Resources and Nueva Vista Community Resources.

For more information, text “RENT” to 211-211 or call 831-316-1822.

Grace comes to Lookout from just over the hill, originally from Sunnyvale but with a variety of journalism experience from across the country.After doing her undergrad at Seattle University, Grace earned...