L.A. to start accepting rent relief applications March 30 from landlords and tenants
Los Angeles landlords and tenants can apply for $235.5 million in rental relief funds starting March 30, city officials said Tuesday, outlining an effort to keep tenants housed and enable property owners to pay their bills.
The money comes from the December federal stimulus bill and is being distributed under rules established by the state that seek to wipe away the rent debt of lower-income tenants.
For tenants in Los Angeles to qualify, they must have experienced a pandemic-related financial hardship and have a household income at or below 50% of an area‘s median income. A family of four, for example, would be eligible with an income of $56,300 or less.
Tenants can apply directly, or landlords can apply on their behalf. Priority will be given to households earning 30% or less of an area‘s median income, and tenants are eligible regardless of their immigration status.
“This assistance will not only support families that are behind on rent … [but] it’s also going to help mom-and-pop landlords who are also struggling during this pandemic to pay for their mortgage,” City Council President Nury Martinez said at a news conference Tuesday.
The $235 million in rent relief is more than double what was available in a previous city relief program during the pandemic. But given the great need, the city expects not to have enough funds to serve everyone in need this time, and applications will be selected at random, said Anna Ortega, an assistant general manager with the Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department.
If picked, tenants could see all the rent debt they accrued from April 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021, wiped away. For that to happen, a landlord must agree to forgive 20% of the debt. The city would then pay the landlord the rest.
If a landlord does not forgive 20%, tenants can receive funds to pay 25% of their rent. Paying that amount protects them from eviction when pandemic-era protections lapse.
Help with future rent payments may also be available.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti urged landlords to forgive part of their tenants’ debt and accept the payment from the city. He noted that landlords who reject the deal would stand to receive less money to immediately pay their bills and would still not be allowed to evict their tenants over the remaining debt.
“We hope every landlord will do the right thing and step up and be part of this program,” he said at the news conference.
Applications will open at 8 a.m. on March 30 and close at 11:59 p.m. April 30. More information is available on the website of Los Angeles’ Housing and Community Investment Department.
Los Angeles’ rent relief program is part of a statewide effort.
Californians who live outside the city can also get help, including the option to wipe away rent debt accrued through March 31. Those people can apply directly with the state or in some cases their local government.
The income limit is not as low: Californians outside Los Angeles can be eligible if their income is 80% of their area’s median or less; however, applicants with incomes of 50% or less will have priority.
According to Los Angeles’ housing department, the city could expand eligibility to those making above 50% of an area‘s median income if more money becomes available, but at the moment it expects funds to run out before everyone making 50% or less is helped.
The American Rescue Plan signed by President Biden this month is one potential source of additional money. It includes more than $20 billion in nationwide rental assistance, though exactly how those funds will be distributed hasn’t been hashed out.