Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez filed a motion Wednesday to use $100 million in federal funding to support the city’s COVID-19 Emergency Renters Relief Program.

The city is slated to receive about $694 million in total aid from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. The motion would direct $100 million to assist residential tenants, landlords and commercial lease holders. The program is intended to begin July 1, Martinez said.

“From the very start of this pandemic, the Los Angeles City Council and Mayor (Eric) Garcetti have had one job, and that is to keep Angelenos safe,” Martinez said. “We’ve done that to protect their health and … we continue to do that to ensure their safety and their wellbeing. The next step is to protect their housing.”

A website for the program has not yet been established, as the city is trying to create a site that can withstand the tens of thousands of people expected to use it without crashing.

Martinez was joined by Garcetti and Los Angeles City Councilmen Herb Wesson, Mitch O’Farrell and John Lee. City Council members have earmarked nearly $3 million of their council district discretionary funds for the Renters Relief Program.

“There is no question that as we have saved lives that people’s livelihoods have been hard-hit,” Garcetti said. “This pandemic has resulted in the highest unemployment rate in Los Angeles in our history, higher than in the Great Depression. People are struggling, they feel that they’re either looking over the cliff or they’re already falling off of it. That’s why it is so important for us to offer relief immediately.”

Garcetti said the program should provide assistance to more than 50,000 households or about 150,000 residents, but the program is also intended to be expanded.

To qualify, tenants would have to prove that they earn 80% or less of the area’s median income, and that they’ve faced economic or health effects due to the pandemic. The rent subsidy would go directly to landlords.

The CARES Act funding the city is expected to receive has to be spent by Dec. 31 and can only be used for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. It cannot be used to replenish city revenues that may have been lost due to the pandemic.

“We need to do more, and that’s why you see this council, this mayor, this government trying to lobby the federal government because they have a responsibility, in my opinion, to really lead the way,” Wesson said. “Prior to this crisis, we were fighting a homelessness situation … and by actions like this, we will keep people in their apartments in their homes and not add to that ever-increasing number.”

People can visit hcidla.org to donate to the Renters Relief Program.

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