LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Time is running out for tenants who need help to pay rent and utilities. California's pandemic eviction protection program ends on March 31, and those who haven't received rent relief from the state are worried about housing.
"I'm one step away from homelessness," said tenant Jenise Dixon. She has lived in her apartment for 19 years, but now she is concerned about the possible eviction.
"My apartment is rent controlled, and the new owners have really been trying to get me out at any cost necessary. Nineteen years, you can imagine the market price is way more than what I'm paying here, but moving just isn't not an option right this second," she said.
Meantime, the slow rollout of rent relief is also putting tenants at risk.
"My application for rental assistance has been pending since October of 2021," Dixon said. "There's no way to go in to file more months because my application is pending. So what do we do about months that we are still behind?"
According to the National Equity Atlas, more than 366,000 of the total 535,000 applicants to the state's rent relief program are still waiting for assistance. Local unions and tenant rights groups are calling for an extension of the program through August 2022.
"Ending these programs right now that offer rent relief, and protect workers from eviction is irresponsible and unethical. Workers have not returned to work," said Pastor Bridie Roberts, the deputy director of community organizer at UNITE HERE Local 11. "They are still in the grips of a pandemic."
She said the hospitality industry is almost back to pre-pandemic levels, but only 64 percent of their members have been called back to work.
According to the state of California, people should apply for rental assistance on or by Mar. 31, as the program will operate until all completed applications are processed and all eligible applicants receive their funds.
State officials also said that nearly 2.5 billion has been paid out for rental assistance helping 215,000 households in California so far.
For additional information of California's rent relief program, visit housingiskey.com. The deadline to apply is March 31, 2022.