A house is for rent in Santa Cruz

Rent assistance is available from various government and nonprofit providers in Santa Cruz County. (Kara Meyberg Guzman — Santa Cruz Local file)

Last updated: Aug. 26, 2022

Need help paying rent? Santa Cruz County has several programs to help people with lower incomes pay rent. Eligibility rules vary.

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Here are rent assistance programs by city and area.

Watsonville Emergency Rental Assistance Program

The Watsonville Emergency Rental Assistance Program offers direct assistance to qualifying Watsonville residents who have COVID-related financial hardships. Rent money will be paid directly to the landlord on behalf of the tenant.

 Eligibility to apply:

  • Earn low or moderate income as a Watsonville resident.
  • Rent a housing unit in Watsonville.
  • Reduced income due to COVID-19.

Steps to apply:

City of Watsonville – Attn: Housing Program ERAP
Community Development Dept.
250 Main St., Watsonville, CA 95076

Santa Cruz County Project-Based Voucher Program

Santa Cruz County’s Project-Based Voucher Program provides a rental assistance program for specific housing units where tenants can apply to live. The Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz offers vouchers for projects in Santa Cruz, Watsonville and Scotts Valley. Many of these projects do not have open waitlists, but you can read more about them or sign up for updates on the Housing Authority’s website. The Resetar Project-Based voucher has an open waitlist.

Resetar Project-Based Voucher

The Resetar Project-Based Voucher Program offers 52 studios and one-bedroom units in the Resetar Residential Hotel at 15 W. Lake Ave. in Watsonville. Five of those units are for formerly homeless veterans. Tenants in the program pay no more than 30% of their income on housing. Tenants must receive case management.

Eligibility to apply:

People in household 1 2 3 4 5
Income limit $29,200 $33,400 $37,550 $41,700 $45,050

Waitlist status: 

  • A waitlist was open as of August. A wait time was not estimated.

 Steps to apply:

  • Complete the pre-application form and submit it to the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz (2160 41st Ave., Capitola CA 95010) to join the waitlist.
  • Applicants receive a letter that confirms acceptance to the waitlist. 
  • Call the Housing Authority with questions at 831-454-9455.

USDA Farmworker Housing

The USDA Farmworker Housing provides affordable housing to households who earn a significant portion of their income from farm laborers. Qualifying household members must be a current, retired or disabled farmworker and a citizen or legal resident of the United States. 

Eligibility to apply:

  • Citizens of the U.S. or those legally admitted for permanent residence.
  • Households who earn a significant portion of income from farm labor.

Waitlist status:

  • A waitlist remained open as of late August. A wait time was not estimated.

Steps to apply:

  • Complete the pre-application form and submit it to the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz (2160 41st Ave, Capitola CA 95010) to join the waitlist.
  • Call the Housing Authority with questions at 831-454-9455.

Community Action Board Rental Assistance Program

The Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County Inc. offers a Rental Assistance Program for low-income residents, families with children, temporarily or permanently disabled people and those 60 or older.

 Eligibility to apply:

  • Have a lease or rental agreement in Santa Cruz County.
  • Face eviction with an eviction notice from a landlord.
  • Must have no other available resources.
  • Must meet Fair Market Rent guidelines. 2022 guidelines are:
Efficiency One bedroom Two bedrooms Three bedrooms Four bedrooms
$2,085 $2,385 $3,138 $4,000 $4,458
People in household 1 2 3 4
Income limit

$13,590

$18,310 $23,030 $27,750

Waitlist status: 

  • A waitlist remained open as of August.

To apply:

  • Call 831-763-2147 ext. 210 to schedule an appointment. The Community Action Board offices are at 406 Main St., Suite 221, Watsonville.

Housing Choice Voucher Program (formerly known as Section 8), Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz

The Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz’s Housing Choice Voucher Program provides rental assistance to residents of Santa Cruz County. Participants find their own rentals on the private market and find landlords who are willing to accept vouchers.

 Eligibility to apply:

People in household 1 2 3 4 5
Income limit $78,050 $89,200 $100,350 $111,500 $120,450

Waitlist status: 

  • A waitlist was closed as of Feb. 23, 2022. Wait times can take several years, according to the Housing Authority. 

Steps to apply:

Catholic Charities Emergency Food and Shelter Program

Catholic Charities Diocese of Monterey offers emergency rent and utilities assistance to residents of Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Luis Obispo and San Benito counties. Rental assistance typically covers one month of rent. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Catholic Charities has funding through FEMA that can cover up to three months of rent. This can be retroactively applied to owed rent from Nov. 1, 2021 or later and can be applied to non-consecutive months.

Eligibility to apply:

  • Living in Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Luis Obispo or San Benito counties.
  • Demonstrate a need of rental assistance.

To apply:

  • Call Laura Espindola at Catholic Charities’ Watsonville office at 831-393-3110.
  • Provide current identification (any U.S. or Mexican government-issued ID), a lease or rental agreement and proof of need.

Families in Transition

Families in Transition provides rent assistance to families who are currently experiencing homelessness. The organization works with Community Action Board to help individuals who are at risk of homelessness. To determine eligibility for rent assistance, renters should complete a Smart Path assessment.

For more information:

  • Call Families in Transition at 831-728-9791.
  • Visit the office at 406 Main St., Unit 326, Watsonville.

To complete an assessment with Smart Path and get on the housing waitlist:

Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center

The Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center provides a Housing and Employment program for people experiencing domestic violence or survivors of domestic violence. Current participants of other programs at Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center may be eligible for rent help.

Eligibility to apply:

  • Active participant at the Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center. 

To access resources for domestic violence survivors:

  • Contact the Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center at 831-426-3062, office at 303 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz.

CalWORKS Welfare-to-Work Program

Participants in the CalWORKS Welfare-to-Work Program (WTW), may be eligible for rental payment help.  Recipients of CalWORKS cash aid participate in Welfare-to-Work with some exceptions. Program participants are assessed and placed in a job, education, training program, or a combination.

  • Families who participate in the CalWORKs program are eligible for the Homeless Assistance Program. The program was established to help meet the costs of securing or maintaining housing. Families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness may receive a Homeless Assistance payment once every 12 months.
    • Temporary Homeless Assistance: provides a payment of $85 per day for a family of four or fewer, and an additional $15 for each additional family member, not to exceed $145 per day. Temporary Homeless Assistance is provided for up to 16 calendar days in a 12-month period.
    • Permanent Homeless Assistance: helps families by providing security deposit or provides up to two months of rent payments. This type of payment cannot exceed two times the total rent of the recipient and the recipient cannot be paying more than 80% of their total monthly household income on rent. 

To apply for Welfare-to-Work:

  • Call 1-888–421-8080 to have an application mailed to you.
  • Visit the centers at 1020 Emeline Avenue, Building B, Santa Cruz or 18 W. Beach Street, Watsonville.
  • Apply online.

Housing Matters

Housing Matters provides rent assistance and other programs to help people get out of homelessness and into permanent housing. Housing Matters provides three housing programs:

  • Permanent Supportive Housing. This program is designed for veterans and chronically homeless individuals and families.
  • Rapid Re-housing. Provides a brief period of rent assistance to individuals and families to return to permanent housing. A variety of programs under rapid re-housing are designed to serve veterans, youths, and families.
  • Diversion. Assists in finding people immediate housing as an alternative to shelters and homelessness. In some cases, the program provides rent money to help clients return to permanent housing. 

To get services from Housing Matters:

  • Call at 831-458-6020 for an intake interview.
  • Visit the campus at 115 Coral St., Santa Cruz.

Community Action Board Rental Assistance Program

The Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County Inc. offers a Rental Assistance Program for low-income residents, families with children, temporarily or permanently disabled people and those age 60 or older. Rental and mortgage assistance is available to eligible residents faced with an eviction notice.

 Eligibility to apply:

  • Have a lease or rental agreement in Santa Cruz County.
  • Face eviction with an eviction notice from a landlord
  • Must have no other available resources

Must meet Fair Market Rent guidelines for 2022:

Efficiency One bedroom Two bedrooms Three bedrooms Four bedrooms
$2,085 $2,385 $3,138 $4,000 $4,458
People in household 1 2 3 4
Income limit

$13,590

$18,310 $23,030 $27,750

Waitlist status: 

  • A waitlist remained open as of August.

To apply:

  • Call 831-457-1741 for an appointment at 501 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. Office hours are limited.
  • Find more information at www.cabinc.org.

Santa Cruz County Project-Based Voucher Program

Santa Cruz County’s Project-Based Voucher Program provides a rental assistance program for specific housing units where tenants can apply to live. The Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz offers vouchers for projects in Santa Cruz, Watsonville and Scotts Valley. Many of these projects do not currently have open waitlists, but you can read more about them or sign up for updates on the Housing Authority’s website. 

Housing Choice Voucher Program (formerly known as Section 8), Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz

The Housing Choice Voucher Program provides rental assistance to residents of Santa Cruz County. Participants find their own rentals on the private market and find landlords who are willing to accept vouchers.

Eligibility to apply:

Waitlist status: 

  • A waitlist was closed as of August. Wait times can take several years, according to the Housing Authority. 

Steps to apply:

Catholic Charities Emergency Food and Shelter Program

Catholic Charities Diocese of Monterey offers emergency rent and utilities assistance to residents of Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Luis Obispo and San Benito counties. Rental assistance typically covers one month of rent. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Catholic Charities has funding through FEMA that can cover up to three months of rent. This can be retroactively applied to owed rent from Nov. 1, 2021 or later and can be applied to non-consecutive months.

Eligibility to apply:

  • Living in Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Luis Obispo or San Benito counties.
  • Demonstrate a need of rental assistance.

To apply:

  • Call Laura Espindola at Catholic Charities’ Watsonville office at 831-393-3110.
  • Provide current identification (any U.S. or Mexican government-issued ID), a lease or rental agreement and proof of need.

USDA Farmworker Housing

The USDA Farmworker Housing provides affordable housing to households who earn a significant portion of their income from farm laborers. Qualifying household members must be a current, retired or disabled farmworker and a citizen or legal resident of the United States. 

Eligibility to apply:

  • Citizens of the U.S. or those legally admitted for permanent residence.
  • Households who earn a significant portion of income from farm labor.

Waitlist status:

  • A waitlist remained open as of late August. A wait time was not estimated.

Steps to apply:

  • Complete the pre-application form and submit it to the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz (2160 41st Ave., Capitola, CA 95010) to join the waitlist.
  • Call the Housing Authority with questions at 831-454-9455.

El Centro Project-Based Voucher Program

The El Centro Project-Based Voucher Program offers 45 single-occupancy units in the El Centro Residential Apartments at 1110 Pacific Ave. ​in downtown Santa Cruz. Residents must be 60 or older.

Eligibility to apply:

Waitlist status: 

  • A waitlist was open as of Feb. 23, 2022. An estimated wait time was not provided. 

Steps to apply:

  • To join the waitlist, complete the pre-application form and submit it to the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz at 2160 41st Ave., Capitola.
  • Applicants receive a letter that confirms acceptance to the waitlist.
  • Call the Housing Authority with questions at 831-454-9455.

Community Bridges Rent Assistance Program

Community Bridges offers one-time rent assistance of $500 to eligible Santa Cruz County residents. 

Eligibility to apply:

  • Show a picture ID as proof of Santa Cruz County residency.
  • Show proof of financial hardship due to the pandemic.

Priority is given to residents ineligible for unemployment payments and other state or federal assistance. To apply, walk in to any of the Community Bridges centers:

  • Nueva Vista Community Resources, 711 East Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz. Open 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1-5 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., 2-5:30 p.m. Thursday. Call 831-423-5747.

Families in Transition

Families in Transition provides rent assistance to families who are either currently experiencing homelessness or they work with Community Action Board to help individuals who are at risk. Referrals come from Smart Path which provides a community queue where people are assessed before being referred to housing services. Families in Transition’s collaboration with the Community Action Board works to send people in emergencies to the Community Action Board rental assistance program instead.

For more information:

  • Contact Families in Transition at 831-728-9791.
  • Visit the office at 406 Main St. Unit 326, Watsonville.

To complete an assessment with Smart Path and get into the housing queue:

Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center

The Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center provides a Housing and Employment program for already active participants of their programs for people experiencing domestic violence or survivors of domestic violence. If you are already participating in one of the Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center programs, you may be able to get assistance individually tailored to your needs.

Eligibility to apply:

  • Active participant at the Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center 

To access resources for domestic violence survivors:

Contact the Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center at 831-426-3062, office at 303 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz.

CalWORKS Welfare-to-Work Program

Participants in the CalWORKS Welfare-to-Work Program (WTW), may be eligible for rental payment help.  Recipients of CalWORKS cash aid participate in Welfare-to-Work with some exceptions. Program participants are assessed and placed in a job, education, training program, or a combination.

Families who participate in the CalWORKs program are eligible for the Homeless Assistance Program. The program was established to help meet the costs of securing or maintaining housing. Families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness may receive a Homeless Assistance payment once every 12 months.

  • Temporary Homeless Assistance: provides a payment of $85 per day for a family of four or fewer, and an additional $15 for each additional family member, not to exceed $145 per day. Temporary Homeless Assistance is provided for up to 16 calendar days in a 12-month period.
  • Permanent Homeless Assistance: helps families by providing security deposit or provides up to two months of rent payments. This type of payment cannot exceed two times the total rent of the recipient and the recipient cannot be paying more than 80% of their total monthly household income on rent. 

To apply for Welfare-to-Work:

  • Call 1-888–421-8080 to have an application mailed to you.
  • Visit the centers at 1020 Emeline Avenue, Building B, Santa Cruz or 18 W. Beach Street, Watsonville.
  • Apply online.

Housing Matters

Housing Matters provides rent assistance and other programs to help people get out of homelessness and into permanent housing. Housing Matters provides three housing programs:

  • Permanent Supportive Housing: This program is designed for veterans and chronically homeless individuals and families.
  • Rapid Re-housing: Provides a brief period of rent assistance to individuals and families to return to permanent housing. A variety of programs under rapid re-housing are designed to serve veterans, youths, and families.
  • Diversion: Assists in finding people immediate housing as an alternative to shelters and homelessness. In some cases, the program provides rent money to help clients return to permanent housing. 

To get services from Housing Matters: 

  • Call at 831-458-6020 for an intake interview.
  • Visit the campus at 115 Coral St., Santa Cruz.

City of Santa Cruz tenant resources

City of Santa Cruz housing assistance resources

Valley Churches United

Valley Churches United is a non-profit that offers crisis rent assistance to residents of their service area in dire need of help. This assistance is offered through their food pantry program.

Eligibility to apply:

  • Applicants must have lived in the San Lorenzo Valley, Scotts Valley or Bonny Doon for the past year.
  • Present a current ID.
  • Provide landlord information.

Steps to apply:

  • Visit Valley Churches United’s food pantry 9-11:45 a.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 9400 Hwy 9 in Ben Lomond
  • Submit a completed application, supporting documents and a personal statement, which will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
  • Call Valley Churches United at 831-336-8258 for more information.

Community Action Board Rental Assistance Program

The Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County Inc. offers a Rental Assistance Program for low-income residents, families with children, temporarily or permanently disabled people and those 60 or older.

 Eligibility to apply:

  • Have a lease or rental agreement in Santa Cruz County.
  • Face eviction with an eviction notice from a landlord.
  • Must have no other available resources.
  • Must meet Fair Market Rent guidelines. 2022 guidelines are:
Efficiency One bedroom Two bedrooms Three bedrooms Four bedrooms
$2,085 $2,385 $3,138 $4,000 $4,458
People in household 1 2 3 4
Income limit

$13,590

$18,310 $23,030 $27,750

Waitlist status: 

  • A waitlist remained open as of August.

To apply:

  • Call 831-763-2147 ext. 210 to schedule an appointment. The Community Action Board offices are at 406 Main St., Suite 221, Watsonville.
  • More information is at www.cabinc.org.

Santa Cruz County Project-Based Voucher Program

Santa Cruz County’s Project-Based Voucher Program provides a rental assistance program for specific housing units where tenants can apply to live. The Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz offers vouchers for projects in Santa Cruz, Watsonville and Scotts Valley. Many of these projects do not currently have open waitlists, but you can read more about them or sign up for updates on the Housing Authority’s website. 

Housing Choice Voucher Program (formerly known as Section 8) Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz

The Housing Choice Voucher Program provides rental assistance to residents of Santa Cruz County. Participants find their own rentals on the private market and find landlords who are willing to accept vouchers.

Eligibility to apply:

Waitlist status: 

  • A waitlist was closed as of August. Wait times can take several years, according to the Housing Authority. 

Steps to apply:

Catholic Charities Emergency Food and Shelter Program

Catholic Charities Diocese of Monterey offers emergency rent and utilities assistance to residents of Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Luis Obispo and San Benito counties. Normally, this rental assistance covers one month of rent. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Catholic Charities has funding through FEMA that can cover up to three months of rent. This can be retroactively applied to owed rent from Nov. 1, 2021 or later and can be applied to non-consecutive months.

Eligibility to apply:

  • Live in Santa Cruz County.
  • Demonstrating need of rental assistance.

To apply:

  • Contact Laura Espindola at Catholic Charities’ Watsonville office 831-393-3110.
  • Provide a current identification card (any U.S. or Mexican government-issued ID), a lease or rental agreement and proof of need.

Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center

The Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center provides a Housing and Employment program for people experiencing domestic violence or survivors of domestic violence. Current participants of other programs at Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center may be eligible for rent help.

Eligibility to apply:

  • Active participant at the Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center. 

To access resources for domestic violence survivors:

  • Contact the Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center at 831-426-3062, office at 303 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz.

Community Bridges Rent Assistance Program

Community Bridges offers one-time rent assistance of $500 to eligible Santa Cruz County residents. 

Eligibility to apply:

  • Show a picture ID as proof of Santa Cruz County residency.
  • Show proof of financial hardship due to the pandemic.

Priority is given to residents ineligible for unemployment payments and other state or federal assistance. To apply, walk in to any of the Community Bridges centers:

  • Mountain Community Resources, 6134 Highway 9, Felton. Open 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1-4 p.m. Monday to Thursday. Call 831-335-6600.

Community Action Board Rental Assistance Program

The Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County Inc. offers a Rental Assistance Program for low-income residents, families with children, temporarily or permanently disabled people and those 60 or older.

 Eligibility to apply:

  • Have a lease or rental agreement in Santa Cruz County.
  • Face eviction with an eviction notice from a landlord.
  • Must have no other available resources.
  • Must meet Fair Market Rent guidelines. 2022 guidelines are:
Efficiency One bedroom Two bedrooms Three bedrooms Four bedrooms
$2,085 $2,385 $3,138 $4,000 $4,458
People in household 1 2 3 4
Income limit

$13,590

$18,310 $23,030 $27,750

Waitlist status: 

  • A waitlist remained open as of August.

To apply:

  • Call 831-763-2147 ext. 210 to schedule an appointment. The Community Action Board offices are at 406 Main St., Suite 221, Watsonville.
  • More information is at www.cabinc.org.

Santa Cruz County Project-Based Voucher Program

Santa Cruz County’s Project-Based Voucher Program provides a rental assistance program for specific housing units where tenants can apply to live. The Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz offers vouchers for projects in Santa Cruz, Watsonville and Scotts Valley. Many of these projects do not currently have open waitlists, but you can read more about them or sign up for updates on the Housing Authority’s website. 

Housing Choice Voucher Program (formerly known as Section 8) Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz

The Housing Choice Voucher Program provides rental assistance to residents of Santa Cruz County. Participants find their own rentals on the private market and find landlords who are willing to accept vouchers.

Eligibility to apply:

Waitlist status: 

  • A waitlist was closed as of August. Wait times can take several years, according to the Housing Authority. 

Steps to apply:

Catholic Charities Emergency Food and Shelter Program

Catholic Charities Diocese of Monterey offers emergency rent and utilities assistance to residents of Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Luis Obispo and San Benito counties. Normally, this rental assistance covers one month of rent. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Catholic Charities has funding through FEMA that can cover up to three months of rent. This can be retroactively applied to owed rent from Nov. 1, 2021 or later and can be applied to non-consecutive months.

Eligibility to apply:

  • Live in Santa Cruz County.
  • Demonstrating need of rental assistance.

To apply:

    • Contact Laura Espindola at Catholic Charities’ Watsonville office 831-393-3110.
    • Provide a current identification card (any U.S. or Mexican government-issued ID), a lease or rental agreement and proof of need.

Families in Transition

Families in Transition provides rent assistance to families who are either currently experiencing homelessness or they work with Community Action Board to help individuals who are at risk. Referrals come from Smart Path which provides a community queue where people are assessed before being referred to housing services. Families in Transition’s collaboration with the Community Action Board works to send people in emergencies to the Community Action Board rental assistance program instead.

For more information:

  • Contact Families in Transition at 831-728-9791.
  • Visit the office at 406 Main St., Unit 326, Watsonville.

To complete an assessment with Smart Path and get into the housing queue:

Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center 

The Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center provides a Housing and Employment program for already active participants of their programs for people experiencing domestic violence or survivors of domestic violence. If you are already participating in one of the Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center programs, you may be able to get assistance individually tailored to your needs.

Eligibility to apply:

  • Active participant at the Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center 

To access resources for domestic violence survivors:

  • Contact the Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center at 831-426-3062, office at 303 Walnut Avenue, Santa Cruz.

CalWORKs Homeless Assistance Program

  • Families participating in the CalWORKs program are eligible for the Homeless Assistance Program, which was established to help meet the costs of securing or maintaining housing. Families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness may receive a Homeless Assistance payment once in every 12-month period. 
    • Temporary Homeless Assistance: provides a payment of $85 per day for a family of four or fewer, and an additional $15 for each additional family member, not to exceed $145 per day. Temporary HA is provided for up to 16 calendar days in a 12-month period.
    • Permanent Homeless Assistance: helps families by providing security deposit or provides up to two months of rent payments. This type of payment cannot exceed two times the total rent of the recipient and the recipient cannot be paying more than 80 percent of their total monthly household income on rent. 

To apply for Welfare-to-Work:

  • Call the Phone Service Center at 1-888–421-8080 to have an application mailed to you.
  • Visit the centers at 1020 Emeline Avenue, Building B, Santa Cruz or 18 W. Beach Street, Watsonville.
  • Apply online.

Community Action Board Rental Assistance Program

The Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County Inc. offers a Rental Assistance Program for low-income residents, families with children, temporarily or permanently disabled people and those 60 or older.

 Eligibility to apply:

  • Have a lease or rental agreement in Santa Cruz County.
  • Face eviction with an eviction notice from a landlord.
  • Must have no other available resources.
  • Must meet Fair Market Rent guidelines. 2022 guidelines are:
Efficiency One bedroom Two bedrooms Three bedrooms Four bedrooms
$2,085 $2,385 $3,138 $4,000 $4,458
People in household 1 2 3 4
Income limit

$13,590

$18,310 $23,030 $27,750

Waitlist status: 

  • A waitlist remained open as of August.

To apply:

  • Call 831-763-2147 ext. 210 to schedule an appointment. The Community Action Board offices are at 406 Main St., Suite 221, Watsonville.
  • More information is at www.cabinc.org.

Santa Cruz County Project-Based Voucher Program

Santa Cruz County’s Project-Based Voucher Program provides a rental assistance program for specific housing units where tenants can apply to live. The Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz offers vouchers for projects in Santa Cruz, Watsonville and Scotts Valley. Many of these projects do not currently have open waitlists, but you can read more about them or sign up for updates on the Housing Authority’s website. 

Housing Choice Voucher Program (formerly known as Section 8) Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz

The Housing Choice Voucher Program provides rental assistance to residents of Santa Cruz County. Participants find their own rentals on the private market and find landlords who are willing to accept vouchers.

Eligibility to apply:

Waitlist status: 

  • A waitlist was closed as of August. Wait times can take several years, according to the Housing Authority. 

Steps to apply:

Catholic Charities Emergency Food and Shelter Program

Catholic Charities Diocese of Monterey offers emergency rent and utilities assistance to residents of Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Luis Obispo and San Benito counties. Normally, this rental assistance covers one month of rent. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Catholic Charities has funding through FEMA that can cover up to three months of rent. This can be retroactively applied to owed rent from Nov. 1, 2021 or later and can be applied to non-consecutive months.

Eligibility to apply:

  • Live in Santa Cruz County.
  • Demonstrating need of rental assistance.

To apply:

    • Contact Laura Espindola at Catholic Charities’ Watsonville office 831-393-3110.
    • Provide a current identification card (any U.S. or Mexican government-issued ID), a lease or rental agreement and proof of need.

Families in Transition

Families in Transition provides rent assistance to families who are either currently experiencing homelessness or they work with Community Action Board to help individuals who are at risk. Referrals come from Smart Path which provides a community queue where people are assessed before being referred to housing services. Families in Transition’s collaboration with the Community Action Board works to send people in emergencies to the Community Action Board rental assistance program instead.

For more information:

  • Contact Families in Transition at 831-728-9791.
  • Visit the office at 406 Main St., Unit 326, Watsonville.

To complete an assessment with Smart Path and get into the housing queue:

Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center 

The Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center provides a Housing and Employment program for already active participants of their programs for people experiencing domestic violence or survivors of domestic violence. If you are already participating in one of the Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center programs, you may be able to get assistance individually tailored to your needs.

Eligibility to apply:

  • Active participant at the Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center 

To access resources for domestic violence survivors:

  • Contact the Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center at 831-426-3062, office at 303 Walnut Avenue, Santa Cruz.

CalWORKs Homeless Assistance Program

  • Families participating in the CalWORKs program are eligible for the Homeless Assistance Program, which was established to help meet the costs of securing or maintaining housing. Families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness may receive a Homeless Assistance payment once in every 12-month period. 
    • Temporary Homeless Assistance: provides a payment of $85 per day for a family of four or fewer, and an additional $15 for each additional family member, not to exceed $145 per day. Temporary HA is provided for up to 16 calendar days in a 12-month period.
    • Permanent Homeless Assistance: helps families by providing security deposit or provides up to two months of rent payments. This type of payment cannot exceed two times the total rent of the recipient and the recipient cannot be paying more than 80 percent of their total monthly household income on rent. 

To apply for Welfare-to-Work:

  • Call the Phone Service Center at 1-888–421-8080 to have an application mailed to you.
  • Visit the centers at 1020 Emeline Avenue, Building B, Santa Cruz or 18 W. Beach Street, Watsonville.
  • Apply online.

Community Action Board Rental Assistance Program

The Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County Inc. offers a Rental Assistance Program for low-income residents, families with children, temporarily or permanently disabled people and those 60 or older.

 Eligibility to apply:

  • Have a lease or rental agreement in Santa Cruz County.
  • Face eviction with an eviction notice from a landlord.
  • Must have no other available resources.
  • Must meet Fair Market Rent guidelines. 2022 guidelines are:
Efficiency One bedroom Two bedrooms Three bedrooms Four bedrooms
$2,085 $2,385 $3,138 $4,000 $4,458
People in household 1 2 3 4
Income limit

$13,590

$18,310 $23,030 $27,750

Waitlist status: 

  • A waitlist remained open as of August.

To apply:

  • Call 831-763-2147 ext. 210 to schedule an appointment. The Community Action Board offices are at 406 Main St., Suite 221, Watsonville.
  • More information is at www.cabinc.org.

Santa Cruz County Project-Based Voucher Program

Santa Cruz County’s Project-Based Voucher Program provides a rental assistance program for specific housing units where tenants can apply to live. The Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz offers vouchers for projects in Santa Cruz, Watsonville and Scotts Valley. Many of these projects do not currently have open waitlists, but you can read more about them or sign up for updates on the Housing Authority’s website. 

Housing Choice Voucher Program (formerly known as Section 8) Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz

The Housing Choice Voucher Program provides rental assistance to residents of Santa Cruz County. Participants find their own rentals on the private market and find landlords who are willing to accept vouchers.

Eligibility to apply:

Waitlist status: 

  • A waitlist was closed as of August. Wait times can take several years, according to the Housing Authority. 

Steps to apply:

Catholic Charities Emergency Food and Shelter Program

Catholic Charities Diocese of Monterey offers emergency rent and utilities assistance to residents of Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Luis Obispo and San Benito counties. Normally, this rental assistance covers one month of rent. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Catholic Charities has funding through FEMA that can cover up to three months of rent. This can be retroactively applied to owed rent from Nov. 1, 2021 or later and can be applied to non-consecutive months.

Eligibility to apply:

  • Live in Santa Cruz County.
  • Demonstrating need of rental assistance.

To apply:

    • Contact Laura Espindola at Catholic Charities’ Watsonville office 831-393-3110.
    • Provide a current identification card (any U.S. or Mexican government-issued ID), a lease or rental agreement and proof of need.

Families in Transition

Families in Transition provides rent assistance to families who are either currently experiencing homelessness or they work with Community Action Board to help individuals who are at risk. Referrals come from Smart Path which provides a community queue where people are assessed before being referred to housing services. Families in Transition’s collaboration with the Community Action Board works to send people in emergencies to the Community Action Board rental assistance program instead.

For more information:

  • Contact Families in Transition at 831-728-9791.
  • Visit the office at 406 Main St., Unit 326, Watsonville.

To complete an assessment with Smart Path and get into the housing queue:

Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center

The Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center provides a Housing and Employment program for people experiencing domestic violence or survivors of domestic violence. Current participants of other programs at Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center may be eligible for rent help.

Eligibility to apply:

  • Active participant at the Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center. 

To access resources for domestic violence survivors:

  • Contact the Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center at 831-426-3062, office at 303 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz.

CalWORKs Homeless Assistance Program

  • Families participating in the CalWORKs program are eligible for the Homeless Assistance Program, which was established to help meet the costs of securing or maintaining housing. Families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness may receive a Homeless Assistance payment once in every 12-month period. 
    • Temporary Homeless Assistance: provides a payment of $85 per day for a family of four or fewer, and an additional $15 for each additional family member, not to exceed $145 per day. Temporary HA is provided for up to 16 calendar days in a 12-month period.
    • Permanent Homeless Assistance: helps families by providing security deposit or provides up to two months of rent payments. This type of payment cannot exceed two times the total rent of the recipient and the recipient cannot be paying more than 80 percent of their total monthly household income on rent. 

To apply for Welfare-to-Work:

  • Call the Phone Service Center at 1-888–421-8080 to have an application mailed to you.
  • Visit the centers at 1020 Emeline Avenue, Building B, Santa Cruz or 18 W. Beach Street, Watsonville.
  • Apply online.

Allison Gasparini, Graycen Wheeler and Kara Meyberg Guzman contributed to this report.

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