The city of Los Angeles is accepting applications for its Emergency Renters Assistance Program until Friday, July 17 at 11:59 p.m. The program allocates $103 million to provide rent subsidies, and households can receive up to $2,000. The program is expected to aid 50,000 Angelenos.
Eligible Angelenos must live in the city of L.A., provide proof of tenancy, have an annual income at or below 80 percent of the area's median income prior to the COVID-19 crisis, and provide documentation of loss or reduction of income due to COVID-19 after March 13, 2020.
Mayor of L.A. Eric Garcetti announced the rental assistance program in May. He said “there’s really mutual interest in renters who are suffering so greatly and those mom and pop landlords... that have been hard-hit to find relief.”
L.A. City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said the $103 million that’s funding this program came from the $2 trillion federal economic stimulus bill known as the CARES Act that President Donald Trump signed into law in March.
“Anyone who is renting in Los Angeles understands that we have a rent burden problem in L.A., and there isn’t enough affordable housing available for people who need it. Then COVID-19 hits, and we knew we needed to create something significant to keep people housed during the pandemic,” O’Farrell said.
In order to keep Angelenos housed, O’Farrell said city councilmembers felt they needed to come up with funding that went beyond the federal and state unemployment programs.
“It's a good start. We probably need to do much more at every level,” he said. “I look forward to seeing what comes from the state in terms of a relief fund for mortgage holders and renters who are in distress. And then of course, the next act of Congress, which right now we're calling it the HEROES Act, but that probably has to be reconciled with the Senate before it gets signed into law.”
People who apply for the L.A. Emergency Renters Assistance Program will be randomly selected to receive benefits. It’s not a first come, first serve basis. Undocumented immigrants can receive monetary support as well.
“Everything that we're doing that’s COVID-related is regardless of immigration status. They’re our neighbors, our family members. Los Angeles is very, very progressive in that, and we think this is of vital importance,” O’Farrell said.
The city’s $103 million has to be spent by the end of the year.
“So the money, according to the CARES Act, has to be spent by December of 2020,” O’Farrell said. “It'll be up to $2,000 per household that qualifies and where you live has to be within the city limits of Los Angeles. The money does go directly to the landlord, but it's specifically on behalf of the unit receiving the funding. So it cuts out the middleman, and there is an agreement that is memorialized between the landlord and the renter, and they then cannot proceed with eviction proceedings for at least six months after this program goes into effect on behalf of the renter.”
When the Emergency Renters Assistance Program’s website opened on Monday, it crashed due to an influx of applicants.
“It was overwhelmed, and I find that unacceptable, especially since we delayed this specifically so HCID could develop the software that works so that wouldn't happen. I will say that they worked it out within a couple of hours, so that's good, but I still called for extending the deadline by a day.”
As of Wednesday, the deadline to apply hasn’t been extended. Applications are still due by Friday at 11:59 p.m.
In the future, O’Farrell said Los Angeles will need more state and federal support.
“The city of Los Angeles budget is in good shape for the fiscal year that we just entered at the beginning of July, but beyond that, there's great uncertainty,” he said. “And so we know that the feds need to act, we know that the state needs to act, and we've got to figure out this COVID-19 pandemic in terms of treatments that are effective, and God-willing, a vaccine.”
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