LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Mayor Eric Garcetti and several members of the City Council announced Tuesday that Los Angeles' $259 million COVID-19 Emergency Renters Relief Program will open to the public starting March 30.
The City Council voted unanimously on March 2 to approve using federal and state government funding for the second round of the city's rent relief program, which will help about 64,000 families with rental assistance, with $235 million earmarked for direct rent assistance and $3 million for eviction defense. The second round of funding is more than double the amount of the last round of assistance.
Garcetti, along with Council President Nury Martinez and council members Nithya Raman, Mike Bonin and Mitch O'Farrell, held a news conference Tuesday morning at City Hall to publicize the program's March 30 launch date.
"The nice thing about this (program) is it goes backwards, it's from April 1 of last year to March 31 of this year, so it's not just about paying a month of rent or two forward. It's about erasing that debt that is stressing out families today that wonder whether or not they will be able to make their rent, not just this month's rent,'' Garcetti said.
"Nobody should lose their home because of a pandemic ... nobody should be forced to wonder what it would be to join the numbers of Angelenos who are unhoused,'' he said.
The first round of assistance provided 49,133 rent subsidies totaling $98.26 million, to help households that could not pay their rents due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The second round will focus on paying off households' past rent, with a maximum grant of $10,000.
"A year into the pandemic, 90,000 Californians are still behind on their rent, the city's unemployment is still over 10% and families in our city owe anywhere between $4,000 and $7,000 in past rent due,'' Martinez said.
"This program will bring working families one stop closer to recovery,'' she said, but added that the city's work is far from over.''
"This pandemic has been devastating for our families and renters in Los Angeles need additional help and support as we continue to recover,'' Martinez said.
The funding is available for people who live in Los Angeles who have been impacted by the pandemic and/or have been unemployed for 90 or more days. They also must have a combined household income at or below 50% of the area median income, but priority will be given to renters at or below 30% of the area median income.
The wait list for rental assistance in Los Angeles has 56,000 renters.
City News Service contributed to this report.