Councilman Kevin de León announced Friday morning that he will introduce a motion to the City Council aimed at speeding up the timeline for landlords to receive backrent for renters who couldn’t pay rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

De León, speaking before the City Council meeting Friday morning, said that the city’s rent relief program received more than 113,000 applications and the city has about $235 million to distribute, with another $260 million expected. However, the city has only paid out about $35 million, de León said.

“The problem we face is not a problem of funding … rather, our problem is a lack of urgency and creativity and commitment to rise to the challenge of this unprecedented crisis,” de León said.

His motion calls on the Los Angeles Housing + Community Investment Department to report on what resources it needs to process and pay all outstanding applications by Oct. 1. Los Angeles County’s eviction moratorium is set to expire on Sept. 30, but the city’s is tied to its declaration of local emergency.

The motion, if passed by the City Council, would also instruct HCID to submit weekly progress reports to the City Council on the status of application payments, and to reopen the application period with people able to be put on a waitlist. It also would have the department develop a multi-lingual outreach campaign to reach people who didn’t submit applications because of language barriers or a lack of access to the Internet.

In de León’s district — which includes parts of downtown Los Angeles, Boyle Heights, Eagle Rock, Highland Park, Glassell Park, El Sereno and other areas — 8,500 people have submitted applications for rental assistance, but only $2 million has been paid, about enough for 182 applications with an average payment of $11,000 each, de León said.

“This is absolutely unacceptable to Angelenos everyday facing the threat of eviction. We can’t afford to take this business-as-usual approach to one of the biggest crises that our city has ever met,” he said.

The city’s rental assistance funding was available for people who live in Los Angeles who have been impacted by the pandemic and/or have been unemployed for 90 or more days. They also must have a combined household income at or below 50% of the area median income, which is $39,450 per year for a single-person household. But priority will be given to renters at or below 30% of the area median income, which is $23,700 per year for a single-person household.

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