By John W. Davis
INGLEWOOD — The City Council has unanimously approved spending $2 million for COVID-19 relief programs that officials said could help up to 20,000 renters.
However, city leaders admit there is a high probability that funds will run out before providing rent relief for all eligible residents.
The program, which has been updated since being introduced on Aug. 11, is two fold.
One aspect is the COVID-19 Rent Relief Program, which will assist renters with up to two months of rental assistance.
Preference will be given to elderly (62 and older), permanently disabled, as well as extremely low-income and very low-income individuals and families. Rent will be paid directly to landlords if a tenant lives in Section-8 Housing.
The other aspect is the COVID-19 Debit Card Program, which officials said will likely be a lottery system. A one-time $500 stipend via debit card will be provided to qualifying residents.
Officials said Inglewood’s program is structured so all residents that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and have an inability to meet previous obligations, due to a job loss or a reduction in hours, are eligible to apply for the program.
City officials said the debit card program will help an estimated 2,000 families or individuals.
Inglewood has set aside $1 million dollars for the implementation of each particular program.
“We structured a program that has the potential to benefit 20,000 renters in this city,” Mayor James T. Butts Jr. said.
However, some believe $500 is simply not enough.
“One month’s rent is worth way more than $500, so that’s doing nothing,” said William Campbell, a member of Africa Town Coalition.
Campbell went on to say homeowners and business owners also need relief.
“Most everybody (who is a renter) could get a stipend during this COVID time,” Butts said.
Butts said federal law allows mortgage holders “forbearance” to add current payments to the end of their loans, without penalty, because of the global coronavirus pandemic.
“So this is why we are focusing on renters because when the COVID restrictions end, they’re still going to be accountable for their rents,” Butts said. “Right now there are people that just need assistance and $500 will make a difference right now for people that have nothing.”
Applications are expected to become available on the city’s website in September.
A limited amount of hours for in-person applications will also be made available at City Hall. Laptops will be set-up in Community Room A. The application process will require three forms of proof of Inglewood residency, such as a utility bill, lease and California ID/License to be eligible.
Butts said every tenant in Inglewood is covered by an emergency ordinance that prohibits evictions during the COVID-19 crisis.
City leaders will make considerations in the future if more funds become available.