Residents may begin applying for rent relief from state

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Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — Angelenos are able to apply for additional rental assistance through a program handled by the state.

City Councilman Kevin de León and Assemblyman Miguel Santiago announced that the city’s decision to hand over its rental assistance program to the California Department of Housing and Community Development would allow checks to get to qualified applicants quicker during a press conference Aug. 27 at Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights.

On Aug. 7, de León and Santiago criticized the city’s program for its slow pace, saying that at the rate payments were being issued, the program wouldn’t be complete for 18 months.

I’m glad to see that Los Angeles recognizes what needs to get done and is wise enough to see that our residents are best served by eliminating duplication of services and allowing [the California Department of Housing and Community Development] to administer the remaining rental payments,” de León said.

The fact is that the state of California already has the necessary infrastructure to meet the massive demand facing us,” de León said. “They’re prepared to rapidly get the dollars where they need to be. Now, tens of thousands of households currently in this program applicant pool will get their rent paid faster. On top of that, we can open applications for rental assistance to new tenants and landlords still struggling who missed the initial deadline.”

So far, the city’s program has approved about 17,000 households for rental assistance, according to Ann Sewill, general manager of the Los Angeles Housing Department, formerly named the Housing + Community Investment Department. Those landlords are expected to receive a total of about $235 million in funds to pay off the tenants’ back rent. About 4,000 landlords have already received the funds.

The partnership with the state will allow the city’s residents to access more resources and ensure that demand for rental assistance is met, officials said.

The state’s program will serve all Angelenos struggling with rent payments as COVID-19 continues to impact their livelihoods,” said Gustavo Velasquez, director of the Department of Housing and Community Development, the administrator of the CA COVID-19 Rent Relief Program. “[The department] has a robust application infrastructure in place, partners on the ground to meet Angelenos where they are, and hundreds of case managers helping people statewide through the application process. We have ramped up to do everything in our power to make Angeleno renters and landlords whole.”

California has committed $5.2 billion in rental relief funds for California residents. According to the Housing + Community Investment Department, the projected need for rental assistance in Los Angeles is about $950 million.

If you were shut out, here’s your opportunity to get back in the system,” Assemblyman Miguel Santiago said, urging Angelenos to apply for rental assistance through the state program. “Even in the district that I represent, which is one of the poorest districts in the state of California, we had about less than 26,000 people apply when we know the eligibility rate is closer to about 100,000 people.

“So many of the people that I represent didn’t get a chance to apply, and so here is the opportunity to apply,” added Santiago, who represents parts of downtown Los Angeles, Boyle Heights, Pico-Union and Westlake.

Mayor Eric Garcetti and Council President Nury Martinez also encouraged Angelenos to apply for rental assistance.

“When the pandemic hit almost 18 months ago, the first action this council took was to implement an eviction moratorium and committed $100 million to start the Emergency Rental Assistance Program,” Martinez said.

After creating the largest rental assistance program in the nation, I’m glad that we will be able to multiply our efforts by working with Gov. Newsom and the state of California to provide the funds and resources our residents need. I’m proud of this city’s advocacy for renters; no one should worry about losing the roof over their head during a pandemic.”

“Every Angeleno who has had their livelihood upended by this pandemic and is in need of rental assistance should be able to get it, full stop,” Garcetti added. “COVID-19 has dealt a devastating blow to our residents, and it’s our responsibility as a government to help them weather this crisis. This partnership with the state builds on our local rental relief efforts to make it clear that every renter who is eligible for rental assistance will be able to access this program.”

Starting Sept. 1, Los Angeles renters and landlords can apply for rental assistance through the state’s program at HousingIsKey.com or by calling (833) 687-0967. People who already applied for the city’s program will be contacted with instructions for next steps.

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