LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Starting today, Los Angeles renters can apply for up to $10,000 in rent relief through the city's $259 million COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
This second round of rental assistance, which was approved by the City Council unanimously on March 2, uses federal and state government funding to help about 64,000 families pay off their owed rent, with $235 million earmarked for direct rent assistance and $3 million for eviction defense.
“The nice thing about this (program) is it goes backwards, it's from April 1 of last year to March 31 of this year, so it's not just about paying a month of rent or two forward. It's about erasing that debt that is stressing out families today that wonder whether or not they will be able to make their rent, not just this month's rent,'' Mayor Eric Garcetti said during the program's announcement on March 23.
“Nobody should lose their home because of a pandemic ... nobody should be forced to wonder what it would be to join the numbers of Angelenos who are unhoused,'' he said.
The first round of assistance provided 49,133 rent subsidies totaling $98.26 million, to help households that could not pay their rents due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The second round will focus on paying off households' past rent, with a maximum grant of $10,000.
“A year into the pandemic, 90,000 Californians are still behind on their rent, the city's unemployment is still over 10% and families in our city owe anywhere between $4,000 and $7,000 in past rent due,'' City Council President Nury Martinez said.
“This program will bring working families one stop closer to recovery,'' she said, but added that the city's work “is far from over.''
“This pandemic has been devastating for our families and renters in Los Angeles need additional help and support as we continue to recover,'' Martinez said.
The funding is available for people who live in Los Angeles who have been impacted by the pandemic and/or have been unemployed for 90 or more days. They also must have a combined household income at or below 50% of the area median income, which is $39,450 per year for a single-person household, but priority will be given to renters at or below 30% of the area median income, which is $23,700 per year for a single-person household.
Renters who wish to apply for the program have two options:
-- a cooperation between the tenant and landlord to participate in the program, in which case the landlord will be reimbursed 80% of the eligible renters' unpaid rent accrued between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021. Under this cooperation, the landlord must waive the remaining 20% of unpaid rent; or
-- if the landlord declines to participate, the renter will receive 25% of the unpaid rent accrued between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021, in addition to financial assistance to pay 25% of up to three months' future rent from April to June 2021.
People can apply for the program at hcidla.lacity.org between Tuesday and April 30. More information and help with the program is available through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program hotline, which is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day, at 833-373-0587.
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