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Los Angeles looks to ease residents’ financial stresses with Emergency Rental Assistance Program

Low income individuals can apply for the program until the end of the month.

By Cassandra Nava, Online Editor

The COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program will assist low income residents with rent payments. (Graphic Illustration by Vickie Guzman/ The Valley Star)

The city of Los Angeles is offering tenants and landlords financial assistance if they are struggling to keep up with their rent.

According to the state Legislative Analyst’s Office, California renters owe $400 million in unpaid rent. In response to this economic issue caused by the pandemic, the city is offering aid through their COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The program is only available to residents who live in the city of LA, and applications are being accepted until Friday, April 30.

In order to qualify for the program, one or more individuals in the household must prove that they have experienced financial hardships related to the pandemic. This can be presented in the form of unemployment benefits, reduced income or falling behind on living expenses. According to the Housing and Community Investment Department’s website, immigration status will not interfere with eligibility. Applicants must have a household income at or below 50 percent of the area median income. This will depend on family size and whether the household falls into an extremely low (30 percent) or very low (50 percent) income level.

According to the LA Times, “The city expects there to be more demand than there is money available and will pick applications at random, while prioritizing those with incomes at or below 30 percent of area median income.”

The $235.5 million rent-relief program, the Times also reported, “is funded through the December federal stimulus bill and distributed under state rules that seek to eliminate rent debt that lower-income tenants have accumulated over the past year.”

The county previously offered financial aid to residents with programs like the First District Rent Relief Program and the LA County COVID-19 Rent Relief Program. These programs assisted renters and landlords last summer by offering similar relief to low income residents.

According to the Housing and Community Investment Department website, landlords are eligible to apply on behalf of their tenants.

“A landlord must agree to accept payment of 80 percent of their tenant’s total unpaid rent owed between April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021, in exchange to forgive the remaining 20 percent of the tenant’s total rent owed for this time period,” states the website in the frequently asked questions section for landlords.

For those looking to apply, the website will lead users to complete a registration form to create an account. A user guide is also available.

“The nice thing about this [program] is it goes backwards, so it's not just about paying a month of rent or two forward,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti during an Emergency Renters Relief Press Conference on March 23. “It's about erasing that debt that is stressing out families today that wonder whether or not they will be able to make their back rent, not just this month's rent.”

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