Yesterday, Los Angeles city officials announced the launch of a $259-million emergency relief program for renters facing financial impacts due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“When COVID-19 hit Los Angeles, we did not know the full scale of what we were up against, but we knew as a government that we needed to do everything we could to help people survive,” said City Council President Nury Martinez in a news release. “After the success of our last renters relief program, we now have more than double the funding to help families fulfill their past due rent. This program will bring working families one step closer to recovery.”

The program, which will begin accepting applications on Tuesday, March 30, is funded through federal relief programs.  The City's Housing + Community Investment Department has been tasked with administering the funds, including $2359 million which will go toward direct rent assistance and $3 million earmarked for eviction defense.

To be eligible for assistance, a households must live in the City of Los Angeles and have a combined income of no more than 50 percent of the area median income (AMI) - approximately $56,300 for a family of four.  Additionally, a household may be eligible if it has either suffered economic hardship due to the pandemic or been unemployed for a minimum of 90 days.  The program will prioritize renters earning 30 percent of the area median income ($33,800 for a family of four), then those who are unemployed or at 50 percent of AMI.  An existing a waitlist comprises 56,000 households, according to the city.

Residents outside of the City of Los Angeles can instead apply for a state reief program.

Allocation of funding will be made in accordance with the state legislation SB 91, which will pay landlords 80 percent of back rent if they agree to waive the remaining 20 percent.  If a landlord refuses to participate, the program will pay 25 percent of the past due rent directly to the tenant, thereby enacting the eviction protections of SB 91.

Eligible households will be able to apply for relief through the HCID website from 8 am on March 30 through midnight on April 30.  If a household lacks computer access, an application can be submitted by calling an emergency hotline and submitting necessary documents to a family resource center.

The new funding represents the second batch of renters’ relief distributed by the City of Los Angeles since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The 2020 program provided more than $98 million worth of subsidies to over 49,000 households.  The 2021 program is expected to focus on fulfilling back rent, which HCID estimates averages between $4,200 and $7,000 citywide.