Rental & Utility Grants for County of Santa Barbara

Last Updated on August 22, 2023 by Hannah Stevens

Santa Barbara County offers Emergency Rental & Utility Assistance through United Way of Santa Barbara County for residents who have lost their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and those who can exhibit the need for rental support.

This program provides rent assistance to residents to help prevent homelessness.

Contact the Legal Aid Foundation for legal advice at (805) 963-6754.

Are you interested in more Free Money Grants and Government Grants for Individuals?

Program Eligibility & Documentation

The Emergency Rent Assistance Program was created to provide rent assistance for residents who have lost their income as a result of, or during, coronavirus, also known as COVID-19 in order to prevent homelessness. Applicants of the program at or below 50% AMI will receive priority for assistance. Additional housing counseling services will also be offered. Previous awardees are qualified to submit a new application for additional funding.

  • One or more household members has been granted unemployment benefits, or experienced a decrease in household income, incurred substantial costs or suffered other financial hardships during or due, directly or indirectly, to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • One or more members of the household could show a risk of becoming homeless, or experiencing housing instability.
  • You must provide proof of residency in the County of Santa Barbara.
  • If the lease is not available, you must provide a copy of the lease agreement or confirmation from the landlord. The documentation must contain the rent amount and the names of all individuals on the lease.
  • The applicant must submit documentation of bills for utility payments.
  • Household income (this includes all those who are on the lease agreement, related or not) must not exceed 80% the Area Median Income for Santa Barbara County. See HOUSEHOLD INCOME LIMIT
    • Program applicants at 50% or below the Area Median Income will be given priority.
  • Documentation of 2 previous months of income

The program may issue an award for a rental unit up to a monthly maximum of 100% of the greater Fair Market Rent or the Small Area Fair Market Rent if applicants cannot provide documentation validating the amount of their rent. Therefore, the award may be less than what a tenant pays in rent. These terms also limit the granting of the award to three months at a time.

For relocation awards, rent reasonableness reviews are conducted in order to assess whether the rent proposed is reasonable when compared to similar units in the market. The following factors will be considered when deciding comparability:

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

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

Did you read our information about the Angeleno Campaign Fund?

Household Income Limit

In order to apply, the income of the household (all persons on the lease agreement, related or not) must not exceed 80% AMI (area median Income).

Individuals per household – Income

  • 1 – $78,350
  • 2 – $89,550
  • 3 – $100,750
  • 4 – $111,900
  • 5 – $120,900
  • 6 – $129,850
  • 7 – $138,800
  • 8 – $147,750

Application Process

  1. After you submit your application, you will receive a confirmation email.
    • If you do not receive a confirmation email, please check your spam folder and/or restart your browser.
    • If you still have not received a confirmation email, you can also contact us at 805-9655-8591.
  2. Once applications have been submitted, they will then be evaluated for eligibility.
  3. A scheduler from the Family Service agency will contact the applicant to set up an interview if the application is approved for processing. The scheduler will remind applicants to bring all required documentation needed to be presented for the interview.
  4. The case manager will review your application and any supporting documentation during the scheduled interview.
  5. The United Way of Santa Barbara County is in charge of making a final determination of award.
  6. United Way of Santa Barbara County will pay rent and utility payments directly to the landlord. An award letter will be sent to the applicant detailing the amount and the designated months.

Please do not forget to bring all documentation for your scheduled interview.

After your application has been reviewed and received to confirm eligibility, a case manager will contact you to arrange an interview. To avoid any delays, make sure you provide a current email address and a phone number.

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

You should also take a look at Rent Assistance – One22 Resource Center.

Frequently Asked Questions

When will I receive a call to schedule a time to review my application?

It may take several weeks for your case manager to contact you due to the volume of applications.

Will I get a confirmation email that I applied?

No, you will not receive an email. After your application is submitted successfully, you will receive an automatic confirmation page. This confirms that your application has been received. For proof of your application, please contact United Way at 805.965.8591.

People calling on behalf of their children– Whose information should I input in the application (my info or my child’s info)?

The applicant should provide the information necessary to represent the individual applying for the funds.

Can I use this assistance for mortgage, down payment, moving, or other housing expenses?

No, funding cannot be used to finance a mortgage or down payment.

There is assistance provided for security deposits, and qualifying moving expenses.

If I need to make an edit on my application, who do I talk to?

Please email [email protected]

If I received rental assistance in the past, can I apply for this new rental assistance?

Yes. You can apply for assistance, provided that the request for assistance for months are different from the previous award. You cannot apply for federal funds that cover the same months if you receive funds from the United Way of Santa Barbara County.

If I don’t have access to a computer, how do I fill out the application? 

You may send an email to [email protected] to make an appointment with a UWSBC staff member who can assist you with the application over the phone.

Contact Information

If you need additional assistance or have questions, contact us at 805-965-8591. Or, send an email to [email protected]. Our staff works virtually. All calls and emails will be returned within 72 hours (Monday – Friday).