L.A. County Opens $100M Rent Relief Program for Pandemic-Affected Renters

With eviction proceedings starting in September, renters earning 30 percent of the median income can receive up to $10,000 from the Board of Supervisors’ program

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Los Angeles County officials opened a $100 million emergency rental assistance program today to help renters and landlords affected by the coronavirus crisis.

Residents can now apply for the program until the August 31 deadline, according to an announcement from the L.A. County Development Authority. The program’s goal is to assist 8,000 to 9,000 low-income households that are struggling to pay rent due to the pandemic and subsequent economic shutdowns. The L.A. County Board of Supervisors is providing the funds for the program via the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

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The funds go to landlords of qualified renters to cover rent costs. The program is available to all county residents who qualify, except for residents of the City of L.A., which launched its own renter relief program — the largest of any city in the country — earlier this summer.

Eligibility for the countywide program is based on renters’ income. Renters earning 30 percent of the median income can receive up to $10,000. Households earning 50 percent of the median income can receive up to $7,500.

“The COVID-19 public health crisis created ongoing business limitations and closures, negatively impacting the livelihood of millions of individuals throughout L.A. County,” Kathryn Barger, chair of the Board of Supervisors, said in a statement. “I am committed to supporting our vulnerable residents by ensuring that they are able to maintain stable housing and do not fall into homelessness due to their inability to work and pay rent. This is also an important opportunity to provide necessary resources for landlords, many of whom are similarly struggling to pay their own bills.”

L.A. County recorded a 19.5 percent unemployment rate at the end of June, according to the latest data released by the California Employment Development Department (EDD). And eviction proceedings are set to restart in September for all counties and cities that didn’t enact long-term moratoriums.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said up to 20 percent of families who have lost a job in L.A. County could end up homeless. He said the $100 million investment is “the massive down payment we need to stabilize the housing market,” as the pandemic is hitting low-income renters and mom-and-pop property owners particularly hard.

Last week, EDD announced that unemployment benefits for pandemic-impacted workers reached $63.9 billion in California just since March. The department has processed more than 10.2 million claims for benefits in that time. EDD paid an average of $686 million a day in benefits last week – about $600 million more than the daily average paid at the height of the Great Recession.

The emergency rental assistance program is operated by the county’s development authority. Residents can apply for assistance by contacting 2-1-1, or by visiting 211la.org/lacounty/rentrelief. Renters will need to provide a W-9 and participation agreement with their property owners to receive rental income. (Citizenship documentation will not be requested from any party.)

Supervisor Hilda L. Solis said the public health crisis is “upending the lives of hardworking families,” particularly for those that live paycheck-to-paycheck, who are struggling to make payments during the crisis “through no fault of their own.”