LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Renters in Los Angeles can now apply for up to $10,000 in rent relief through the city's $259 million COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance program.
This second round of rental assistance, which was approved by the City Council unanimously on March 2, opened up on Tuesday. The relief program uses federal and state government funding to help about 64,000 families pay off their owed rent, with $235 million earmarked for direct rent assistance and $3 million for eviction defense.
"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," Mayor Eric Garcetti said during the program's announcement on March 23.
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," City Council President Nury 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."
In order to quality to receive rental assistance, people who live in Los Angeles must have been impacted by the pandemic and/or been unemployed for 90 or more days.
They also must have a combined household income at or below 50% of the area median income, which is $39,450 per year for a single-person household, but priority will be given to renters at or below 30% of the area median income, which is $23,700 per year for a single-person household.
Renters who wish to apply for the program have two options:
People are eligible regardless of immigration status and applications will be chosen through a random selection process.
The application period will be open through April 30.
City News Service contributed to this report.