coronavirus

Los Angeles Rent Assistance Program Sees Surge of Applicants on First Day

Interested renters can apply online at hcidla.lacity.org.

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More than 150,000 people applied for the Los Angeles COVID-19 rent assistance program Monday, the beginning an application period that will continue through Friday.

The relief program is aimed at helping Los Angeles residential tenants struggling with the economic affects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We had a high volume, but remember this is not first-come, firstserve," Mayor Eric Garcetti said. "There are five days to make sure that, whether you do it online or on the phone, … you can apply and make sure you're in the mix."

The program, with $103 million in available funds, is only anticipated to provide assistance to about 50,000 applicants. Since three times that many people have already applied, recipients of the benefit will be chosen at random at the end of the application period.

The application process for the Emergency Renters Relief Program will conclude at 11:59 p.m. Friday, said Ann Sewill, general manager of the Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department, which is charged with administering the program.

Interested renters can apply online at hcidla.lacity.org.

People with limited online access may call the Application Hotline at 844-944-1868, between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. People with hearing or speech impairments may call 844-325-1398 during the same hours.

The program is open to all renters, regardless of immigration status.

"We know people throughout the city of Los Angeles need assistance, particularly our working poor and disenfranchised communities, who are hit hardest by both the health and economic impacts of COVID-19," Council President Nury Martinez said. "Demand will be high and serve as a reminder that the federal government must offer billions more in housing assistance if we are going to help all who need assistance to remain in their homes during and after this pandemic."

The program allocates $103 million to provide a rent subsidy for lowincome tenants in the city of Los Angeles who are unable to pay rent due to circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic. HCIDLA officials are calling it the largest coronavirus-related emergency rental assistance program in the nation.

The majority of the funds -- $100 million -- come from the city's federal CARES Act stimulus money.

The subsidy will provide a grant of up to $1,000 per month, with a maximum grant of $2,000 per household, and will be paid directly to the tenant's landlord on behalf of the tenant. Eligible tenants are those whose household income is at or below 80% of the area median income.

The program was first proposed by Martinez and Councilmen Herb Wesson and Mitch O'Farrell. It is based on a program created last winter when some tenants allegedly were being "rent-gouged" before a state rent-control law took effect. The reinstated program deals with the health pandemic.

"Pulling together at every level of government as never before is required to keep people housed and businesses open during this unprecedented time," O'Farrell said. "Much more is needed but this $100 million rent subsidy program is a great start. Allocating this funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act will help stabilize thousands of families in Los Angeles.

"The recovery will be hard enough without people having to worry about how to stay housed and put food on the table while meeting their financial obligations," O'Farrell added.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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