The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to reinstate the Emergency Renters Relief Program to assist residential tenants and landlords struggling with the economic affects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The proposal was first introduced by Council President Nury Martinez and Councilmen Herb Wesson and Mitch O’Farrell. Tuesday’s motion directs $100 million from the city’s federal CARES Act fund to the city program.
The council did not discuss the program prior to the vote, but discussed it at length in late May.
“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 at the time. “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.”
The design of the program was approved last week in the newly formed Ad Hoc Committee on COVID-19 Recovery and Neighborhood Investment. In addition to the $100 million, several councilmembers including Martinez, Wesson, O’Farrell, Paul Koretz and John Lee, earmarked about $3 million in discretionary funds toward the program.
The Emergency Renters Relief Program was created last winter when some tenants allegedly were being “rent-gouged” before a state rent-control law took effect.
The reinstated program will function similarly to how it did in the winter. Tenants who cannot pay some or all their rent because of COVID-19 and earn below 80% of the average median income can apply.
Once approved, funds will be paid directly to their landlords. A report from the Housing and Community Investment Department stated the program could help 50,000 households through two months of rent assistance, with $1,000 per month or up to $2,000 per household.
If eligible families’ monthly rent is less than that over two months, then a credit will be applied to a third month of assistance. The checks will be issued to the landlords with stipulations they must follow to receive any funds, Martinez said.