BOYLE HEIGHTS, Calif. — The eviction moratorium ended in September, but California Assemblymember Miguel Santiago is working hard to inform low-income renters in downtown Los Angeles — which has the highest need for help in his district — that there are still protections and funding available that would cover 100% of back rent.
What You Need To Know
- The eviction moratorium ended at the end of September, but a local state legislator wants low income renters to know there are still protections and funding available
- Assemblymember Miguel Santiago travelled to the areas in his Downtown LA district with the highest need to help them apply for funding that will cover 100% of their back rent
- Tenants are eligible if they can prove they've been impacted by COVID-19 and have an annual income that's less than about $66,000 for a single person
- For more information or to apply for rent and utility relief, visit housing.ca.gov or call (833) 687-0967
The East LA YMCA has also been informing people, like the Neal family, that they are eligible for free rent and utility relief through a workshop.
"It’s just a lot. Parents we (are) out here stressed out. (We) can’t pay our bills on time. I went from paying the bills, to paying the half to can’t even afford it. This program really helps,” said Anneisha Neal, who has four little ones at home.
Walking through the application step-by-step with volunteers at the Boys and Girls Club in Boyle Heights, Neal said she had no idea state funding was still available.
For Neal and her family, things have been extremely difficult since she lost her job as an assistant manager of Little Caesars. She was pregnant at the time and has not been able to find steady employment.
"You can’t sleep sometimes," Neal said. "I don’t even know what the next day going to bring. You have to make decisions when it comes to bills, especially when you have kids."
They are living in low-income public housing, so it does help that rent is well below the average for this area, but Neal said she can’t afford her utility bill that has racked up to nearly $2,000.
She is expecting them to cut off the power any day, but said that is better than having her kids living out of a car.
Assemblymember Miguel Santiago said situations like the Neal family are a dime a dozen in this East LA district. He said about 125,000 people in this district could be eligible for 100% rent and utility relief dating back to April of 2020, but only 20,000 have applied for it.
“We have canvassed, we’ve made phone calls, we’ve gone to community organizations and there’s been a lot of questions like 'do I qualify, do I not quality?'” Santiago said.
He has teamed with the YMCA, the Housing Authority and other community organizations to spread the word about the funding. According to Santiago, the state has allocated $5.2 billion for rental assistance alone.
The Executive Director of East LA YMCA, Brenda Hernandez, also hit the streets to spread the word hoping to eliminate the digital and language barriers the predominately-Hispanic community faces. She has been telling struggling tenants they are eligible for aid as long as they were impacted by COVID and have an annual income that is less than about $66,000 for a single person.
"Whether it’s technical support, creating an email, a lot of times they don’t even have access to an email, so we are having to create that from scratch and then walking them through the application process," Hernandez explained.
She has also been letting tenants know that as soon as they apply for funding, by law, landlords are no longer able to evict tenants as they wait for the payment. They are protections that last until March of next year.
Neal said she is planning to tell everyone she knows in the community who still grappling with the long term impacts of COVID-19 about the assistance.
“I’m very, very grateful cause I didn’t know what I was going to do," she said.
Santiago, Supervisor Hilda Solis and the Fair Housing Foundation also visited Huntington Park to spread the word. Less than 900 tenants out of the nearly 60,000 residents have applied.
For more information or to apply for rent and utility relief, visit housing.ca.gov or call (833) 687-0967.