$100 million to go towards rent assistance as pandemic continues

THE latest Los Angeles County Rent Relief program created to help county renters who have been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 crisis will launch Monday, August 17, and will remain open for a two-week period, closing on August 31.

The rent relief program will provide $100 million in CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act funds to renters’ landlords with hopes of assisting between 8,000 to over 9,000 households.

“This will be one of the largest rent relief programs of its kind in the nation with a goal to assist more than 9,000 households,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger at a news conference Wednesday, August 12.

The emergency rental assistance is intended to help low-income renters who have struggled to pay rent or have fallen behind on rent due to the pandemic, and is available to all residents of LA County.

Excluded are those living in the City of Los Angeles as the city has its own allocations of CARES Act funds.

The program, though open to all eligible renters across the county, will prioritize eligible renters who are most in need.

Those living in identified target zip codes will be prioritized for 50% of the available funding, while those not listed in targeted zip codes will be chosen by lottery for the other half of the available funding.

Prioritized zip codes can be found online at rentrelief.lacda.org.

“This will not just be first come first serve. Not everyone will get the same amount. This program will be based on equity,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

Renters living on 30% of the median income and cannot pay rent may receive up to $10,000. Renters living on 50% of the median income may receive up to $7,500.

Because the relief funds will be paid directly to landlords to settle unpaid rent, LA County officials ensured that landlords would need to abide by certain terms and would be closely monitored to make sure that the money would be put toward their tenants’ rent.

“We are going to be verifying exactly what the arrearage is, specific to the households that are receiving the assistance,” said Emilio Salas, acting executive director at the Los Angeles County Development Authority (LACDA), which is managing the program.

“It’s specific to households, but there is a check and balance and a way to make sure we all have the same understanding [about] what money is coming,” added Salas.

“Landlords are going to have to agree to terms and conditions to get the money, so there are checks and balances as it relates to the money being released,” said Barger.

‘Piece of mind’

The coronavirus pandemic has left many Los Angeles renters scrambling to pay rent. A recent study by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) found that some 365,000 residential renters in the county could face eviction.

While the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to extend a moratorium on evictions for tenants unable to pay rent due to the coronavirus, the moratorium does not absolve tenants of paying   missed rent.

The latest rent relief program is the second program to give renter relief, following the county’s pilot Emergency Renters Assistance Subsidy Program that granted up to $1,000 to $2,000 per month to cover monthly rent for eligible renters.

Anja Carrillo, a recipient of the county’s pilot program, was on the brink of eviction when she applied.

“If I wouldn’t have gotten approved, I probably would have been right now homeless with my 7-year-old son. The landlord threatened to evict me,” said Carrillo.

The single mother of one had worked for a tourism company in Hollywood before being laid off due to the pandemic.

“If you feel like you’re going to be homeless in a month, you don’t really have much to look forward to,” shared Carrillo. “It gave me peace of mind.”

Applications for the LA County Rent Relief program can be submitted starting Monday, August 17 anytime online at 211la.org/lacounty/rentrelief, or by dialing 2-1-1 between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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