LOS ANGELES (CNS) - As the 2021-22 fiscal year begins in Los Angeles today, so does the city's new COVID-19 eviction defense program to offer free legal representation, counseling and education workshops for city renters who make 80% or less of the area median income and have been impacted by the pandemic.
The $10 million COVID-19 Response Eviction Defense Program is designed to reach more than 100,000 households over the next two years and provide free pre-eviction counseling, free legal representation and tenant outreach, including weekly education workshops.
The city contracted with the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles to provide representation in collaboration with a consortium of legal services providers.
“We want you to know that your city is on your side. We believe in a right to housing, and we believe that you should stay in your housing,'' Garcetti said.
People are eligible for legal assistance through the program if they are:
-- residents of the city of Los Angeles, regardless of immigration status;
-- have experienced loss of income or are facing displacement related to COVID-19;
-- have an annual household income at or below 80% of the area median income, which translates to $66,250 for a one-person household, $75,700 for a two-person household, $85,150 for a three-person household, and $94,600 for a four-person household.
The program was in the works before the COVID-19 pandemic, Garcetti said Wednesday. He also reminded Angelenos that the city, county and state are currently under an eviction moratorium until at least Sept. 30, and that state and local governments are working to pay off back rent for those who couldn't pay due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The governor said that he believes (the state will) pay all back rent for folks. We don't quite say the same proclamation, but it's going to come close and certainly for folks who are under 50% of the median area income, in other words, our lowest income residents,'' Garcetti said.
Ann Sewill, general manager of the Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department, urged Angelenos to use the program.
“If you are a tenant or if you know someone experiencing the threat of eviction, we encourage you to seek help through the eviction defense `Stay Housed' program,'' she said.
Along with the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, the city partnered with Stay Housed L.A. and Strategic Actions For a Just Economy for the program.
Garcetti said the city partnered with locally based community organizations because “they are the ones with the networks, the contacts and the trust on the ground throughout the neighborhoods.''
People can access services by visiting hcidla.lacity.org or calling 1-866-557-7368.
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