Oakland CARES Act: Keep Oakland Housed Outcomes

The Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) administered the Keep Oakland Housed (KOH) program which provided more than $4,315,000 in federal CARES act funding directly to renters and homeowners who were most severely impacted by the COVID-19 health pandemic and most at risk of losing their home and becoming homeless.

Posted: March 1st, 2021 2:20 PM

Last Updated: March 30th, 2021 11:56 AM

Keep Oakland Housed Renter and Homeowner COVID-19 Relief Program Overview

The housing crisis has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, and residents are experiencing abrupt life changes – emotionally, socially, and economically.

They are faced with a rapid loss of wages, loss of health insurance or unaffordable healthcare costs, loss of childcare or increased childcare costs, or other emergency financial impacts that put them at a greater risk of displacement from their homes due to an inability to pay rent, make mortgage payments, or other personal and housing costs.

Rental and Homeowner Financial Assistance for Housing Security

The goal of the Keep Oakland Housed (KOH) Program is to assist renters and homeowners who are the most severely impacted by the COVID-19 health pandemic and who are most at risk of losing their home and becoming homeless as a result of COVID-19 health and economic impacts. Program partners accomplished this goal by providing direct emergency financial assistance to address renter and homeowner needs.

KOH Program Partners:

  • Bay Area Community Services (BACS)
  • Catholic Charities East Bay
  • Centro Legal de la Raza
  • Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA)

Program Selection Criteria

Applicants for program assistance submitted an application form and required documentation to demonstrate their eligibility. Eligibility requirements were:

  • A current Oakland resident
  • At risk of losing their home
  • A low-income individual or household
  • Experienced a COVID-19 related loss of income or increased expenses

Applications were prioritized based on need and severity of COVID-19 impact, targeting the following: 1) previous homelessness, 2) extremely low income (30% of AMI and below), and 3) living in a zip code identified as having experienced high rates of the COVID-19 infection.

Graph of Neighborhoods Served
Graph of Neighborhoods Served

Summary of Outcomes

Current Annual Income of KOH program participants
Current Annual Income of KOH program participants

The funds were deployed in funding to 1,031 renters and 17 homeowners who were the most severely impacted by the COVID-19 health pandemic and most at risk of losing their home and becoming homeless as a result of COVID 19 health and economic impacts.

Just Cities and partner agencies conducted community education and outreach efforts to more than 44,000 formerly incarcerated residents and their family members, re-entry service providers, and housing providers. The goal was for re-entry residents to be able to access housing with their family members or on their own, while preventing homeless and COVID spread.

KOH partners reported positive outcomes for recipients in preventing displacement and financial hardship when choosing between paying rent to avoid accumulation of massive rent debt and food or medical expenses. One partner indicated that 53% of those assisted had previously experienced homelessness, a predictor of future homelessness.


“When Covid-19 hit, our household lost all of its income in the blink of an eye. We are three generations in one home and my father is extremely vulnerable to COVID infection, which has us living in fear of his exposure. We were sure we would lose our housing due to debts piling up. Rather than sell my car or other belongings in order to pay for food, rent, and other bills, I was able to have my back rent paid by Keep Oakland Housed and feed our family. I thank God for this resource BACS was able to offer me and my family.

Client Case Study Narrative

Client Profile

Single father with 10 year old daughter. Housed in small 2 bdrm apt. On current lease for 2.5 years. Stretch and barely making rent prior to COVID (55% rent burden).


Client lost 70% of income as live event staff at the onset of COVID-19.


Although this client owed nearly $8,000 in back rent since May, BACS was able to be successfully negotiated with the landlord, paying $4,000 of the household’s back rent. The landlord was willing to forgive the remainder of nearly $4,000 owed, freeing the client to address other urgent family needs including supporting his daughter’s ongoing childcare needs as he returns to employment this month.

Client Case Study Narrative

Client Profile

Multi-generational household including a mother, her 10 year-old son, and an adult daughter with a 4 year-old son.


Applicant and her daughter both lost their jobs at an embroidery business due to the sudden shutdown. They were initially given a month break, but then everyone was fully laid off. The business gave them a small final check and they were told that they would get a call back once they were able to reopen.


This family received $4,000 under CARES Act. Total rent owed was $5,720 and the family and landlord agreed to a payment plan to pay the difference.

Program Assessment and Lessons Learned

  • Renters are in need of more than one-time, short-term rental assistance support. (Funds were limited to a one-time maximum assistance of $4,000 per household due to the short-term nature of the program.)
  • City staff need to carefully size grant awards to match partners’ capacity.
  • Partner reporting metrics should include outcome measures.
  • There should be uniformity in terms of application process such as the time people have to respond and submit documentation.
  • It's more effective to utilize a single, simple intake format that is accessible in multiple languages.
  • A more robust, uniform data collection system must be developed and employed.
  • Outreach should include a wide range of activities, employing trusted community partners and innovative methods such as ethnically diverse and paid media.
  • Landlord outreach is impactful.
  • Campaign signs in front of schools increases visibility.
  • Partnering with schools to do robo calls in multiple languages can increase awareness.

High level summary of biggest lessons

Chart showing race of program households
Chart showing race of program households

Race and Equity

  • Find out how people found out about the program.
  • Work with partners, to do application events at schools, churches, etc.

Language access

  • Applications (and web portals) available in multiple languages is optimal; including an Asian languages application portal, and a provider with Asian language capacities.
  • Bilingual staff who can process applications is necessary.

Tenant Protections

  • An Educational component about landlord harassment, eviction moratorium, etc. should be included.

Related Documents and Web Pages