LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Los Angeles County officials Wednesday urged residents struggling with housing costs during the coronavirus pandemic to apply for relief through a $100 million rent relief fund, applications for which will be accepted beginning Monday.
The money comes from federal COVID-19 relief funds to be managed by the Los Angeles County Development Authority, and will be paid directly to landlords to settle unpaid rent.
"This $100 million will go a long way toward keeping houses and families housed," county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said.
County officials said they hope the program will help 8,000 to 9,000 households. The program will open Monday and remain open for two weeks to provide emergency rental assistance for low-income renters who are struggling as a result of the health and economic crisis.
A lottery for eligible applicants will be held at the end of the application period.
Los Angeles residents are not eligible, as the city received a separate allocation of federal funds for its residents. The program will apply to residential properties only.
Residents unable to pay their rent and living on 30 percent of the median income can receive up to $10,000. Those at 50% of the median income can receive up to $7,500.
"These figures are very important because it represents a deep level of assistance that's truly meant to prevent homelessness," said Emilio Salas, the LACDA acting executive director.
The eligible income limit for a household of four people, including money earned by all adults in that household, is $56,300. Residents can check their eligibility via a FAQ at 211la.org/lacounty/rentrelief.
"As we assess the damage caused by this pandemic, there are very evident health, mental health and financial impacts," Supervisor Kathryn Barger said. "Every person has been affected, but COVID ... disproportionately impacted our most vulnerable communities as the county began to tackle this challenge."
Reasons for inability to pay rent can include loss of income due to reduced hours or business closures, medical costs related to COVID-19, increased child care costs, or loss of income related to emergency measures put in place after March 13.
Residents who live in ZIP codes at higher risk of eviction and other socioeconomic vulnerabilities will be fast-tracked for assistance, according to authorities. Approximately 50 percent of the funding will be allocated to these ZIP codes, which are identified on the LACDA website.
Renters who receive subsidies under Section 8 are not eligible.
Ridley-Thomas said the program is designed to target low-income communities -- often communities of color -- and is consistent with the county's "new approach to policy making consistent with the anti-racist agenda."
"This is cutting edge. This is what we need to do," he said. "This will not just be first-come, first-served. Not everyone will get the same amount. This program will be based on equity."
All relief will be paid directly to landlords. A W-9 form is needed from property owners to receive rental income on behalf of their qualified tenant.
To receive money from Los Angeles County, owners must agree not to evict the tenant for six months after the end of the COVID-19 emergency declaration and not to raise the rent for one year after the declaration ends.
Citizenship documentation will not be requested from any renters or property owners.
Once the program opens, residents can apply at https://211la.org/lacounty/rentrelief or by calling 211 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. to be eligible for the lottery.