A NEW Los Angeles City Council motion is seeking to use $100 million in federal funding for the city’s Emergency Renters Assistance Program.

The proposal, filed by Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez on Wednesday, May 27, is said to be the largest rent relief program of any city in the U.S.

“From the very start of this pandemic, the Los Angeles City Council and Mayor Garcetti have had one job, and that is to keep Angelenos safe,” said Martinez, who represents Council District 6 in the San Fernando Valley. “The next step is to protect their housing.”

Joining Martinez was Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Councilmembers Herb Wesson, Mitch O’Farrell, and John Lee.

The city is expecting to receive about $694 million in aid from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act — the funding must be used by the end of the year for responses to the coronavirus pandemic and other efforts addressing economic impacts on businesses or renters.

Under the city’s proposed program that is intended to start on July 1, $100 million would go towards helping both tenants and landlords. Checks would go directly to landlords.

Martinez said that many of the city’s landlords are independent “mom and pop” operators and persons of color who depend on rent.

“The last thing we want to see is for these landlords to go into foreclosure and lose their properties, and for the City of Los Angeles to become a corporate driven rental market,” said Martinez. “That is not the city we want to be.”

Details of the program are still being finalized, but to qualify, renters would need to prove that they have experienced economic or health effects due to the current pandemic, and prove that they earn 80% or less of their area’s median income.

Since LA County went into safer-at-home orders as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic, unemployment reached 20%.

According to a report by the UC Berkeley Terner Center for Housing Innovation, approximately one million in the Los Angeles metro area were found likely to be immediately impacted by COVID-19-related income or jobs losses.

“There is no question that as we have saved lives, that people’s livelihoods have been hard hit. This pandemic has resulted in the highest unemployment rate in Los Angeles in our history, higher than in the Great Depression,” said Garcetti. “People are struggling, they feel that they’re either looking over the cliff, or they’re already falling off of it. That’s why it is so important for us to offer relief immediately.”

The proposed program is expected to provide relief to more than 50,000 households or roughly 150,000 residents, said Garcetti. The city’s housing department estimates that as many as 74,074 renters would benefit.

Martinez added that the city was not stopping at $100 million and has plans of expanding the program.

Martinez also encouraged those who could donate to the city’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program to do so by visiting hcidla.org.

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