L.A. County rent assistance program could provide tenants up to $1,000 per month

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The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved the creation of an emergency rent assistance program for residents who are struggling amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Once created, the program could provide up to $1,000 per month for three months to renters who lost income during the pandemic, according to a news release from Supervisor Janice Hahn’s office.

Though it is too early to tell when affected residents can start to apply for the program, it will likely be available to renters countywide, Hahn’s spokeswoman Liz Odendahl told KTLA.

The county has already implemented a rent freeze and eviction moratorium, but under those provisions, renters would still be responsible for rent owed months after the crisis. The new program would be different.

“Rent assistance would not need to be paid back and could prevent families from falling into even worse economic hardship,” the release stated.

“This crisis has devastated families who were already living on the brink of poverty,” Hahn said in the statement. “The eviction moratorium we have in place has provided some relief, but many families are going to struggle to pay back the rent they owe after this crisis is over.  Rent assistance will help keep people in their homes and lessen some of the long-term economic damage this pandemic will have on families.”

The city of Los Angeles has also implemented an eviction freeze and suspended rent increases on units covered by the city’s rent control measure, but has failed to provide additional assistance for renters despite urgent calls to do so.

Statewide, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a ban on evictions for renters until June 1.

Funding for the county’s emergency program is expected to come from the federal stimulus package and private sources, officials said.

Supervisor Hilda Solis, who co-wrote the motion, said rental assistance is “sorely needed.”

The announcement of the new program comes as new data showed almost a third of Americans did not pay rent on April 1, and tenants across the U.S. vowed to go on a rent strike to get their payments waived amid the crisis.

A plan to implement the new program is due back to the Board of Supervisors in 30 days, Odendahl said.

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