Los Angeles officials highlight tenant resources ahead of rent debt repayment deadline

Sunday, July 30, 2023
Deadline approaches for Los Angeles rent debt repayment
Ahead of the Aug. 1 deadline for repayment of back rent for the first 18 months of the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Karen Bass and City Councilwoman Nithya Raman have released resources for Angelenos to stay in their homes.

LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- Ahead of the Aug. 1 deadline for repayment of back rent for the first 18 months of the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Karen Bass and City Councilwoman Nithya Raman have released resources for Angelenos to stay in their homes.

"We will only be able to solve our city's homelessness crisis if we work to prevent people from falling into homelessness in the first place," Bass said in a statement Thursday.

"On August 1, certain COVID-19 rental protections will expire and I have worked with our partners on the City Council as well as the Los Angeles Housing Department to prepare resources for those who may be impacted."

She added that the city will do all it can to prevent a "wave of evictions" as they continue to confront the homelessness crisis.

Raman in a statement said the city will utilize all of its tools, including the package of renter protections the council put in place earlier this year, plus Measure ULA dollars and an eviction defense program to prevent Angelenos from becoming homeless due to back rent.

"My hope is that the impending August 1 rent debt repayment deadline actually push us to reshape and transform our current system into one that proactively supports vulnerable tenants to stay housed, not just at this moment but over the long term," Raman said in a statement.

Under previous tenant protections during the pandemic, tenants have until Aug. 1 to pay any missing rent due between March 2020 to September 2021. For rent due between October 2021 to Jan. 31, tenants have until February 2024 to pay the missing rent.

The mayor's office and the Los Angeles Housing Department launched public information campaigns to inform tenants about new protections and resources for Angelenos.

These campaigns targeted "high-risk" ZIP codes, which were identified through Stay Housed LA, and also included newly protected units post 1978 construction and single-family homes. Paid advertisements about protections ran on radio and in community papers in various languages.

In addition, ads ran on social media platforms resulting in more than 150,000 clicks, as well as on NextDoor, which led to more than 1 million impressions.

The Mayor's Fund for Los Angeles -- an independent nonprofit that supports the mayor's vision for the city -- committed its resources to homelessness prevention.

The organization's new "We Are LA" program recently began, intended to reach and help at-risk Angelenos stay housed. Outreach teams connected with nearly 41,000 Angelenos and made case management appointments with more than 10,000 Angelenos.

The program aims to connect with more than 200,000 in the coming weeks.

Measure ULA, also known as the "mansion tax," is a 4% sales tax on properties exceeding $5 million, and 5.5% sales tax on properties exceeding $10 million. The revenue from the sales tax will be collected and earmarked for renter protections, including protections for low-income seniors at risk of homelessness, rental assistance programs and building more affordable housing units.

City officials initially reported the measure would generate between $600 million and $1.1 billion annually, but that estimate was lowered to $672 million. The mayor's office reported Thursday afternoon that $38 million has been raised from the measure.

The mayor's office indicated the ULA spending plan will come before the council's Housing and Homelessness Committee on Aug. 2, and then to the full council soon after.

The spending plan proposes the following:

- $18.4 million for a short term emergency assistance program, allowing eligible income tenant households to apply for up to six months owed back rent;

- $23 million for the city's Eviction Defense/Prevention program, which would expand the Stay Housed LA program -- a partnership with Los Angeles County, legal service providers and community organizations;

- $5.5 million for a tenant outreach and education program, and campaign to provide broad and targeted tenant education outreach services, including workshops, and legal services; and

- $11.2 million for a protections from tenant harassment program to inform tenants, and landlords, on their rights and obligations. The Council adopted the Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance in August 2021 to protect tenants from harassment by landlords.

Information on tenant's rights and a list of resources can be found online.