New rent relief in L.A.: Who’s eligible and how to apply

Local news

Starting Wednesday, Los Angeles renters and landlords affected financially by the coronavirus pandemic will again be able to apply for more rental assistance funds.

It’s part of a new agreement between the city of Los Angeles and the state of California that will let Angelenos tap into the $5.2 billion in emergency rental relief funds that California got from the federal government — a much larger pool of resources than the city’s previous rental assistance program.

The state will be responsible for processing applications and distributing relief funds for Angelenos.

The Housing Is Key emergency rental assistance program can cover 100% of back rent and utility costs owed by income-eligible residents, dating back to April 1, 2020.

Eligible renters may also apply for assistance for future utility payments, but the program only covers a maximum of 12 months.

Landlords can get reimbursed for an eligible renter’s unpaid rent, also dating back to April 1, 2020.

Applications opened for L.A. renters and landlords at 7 a.m. Wednesday — weeks before California’s evictions moratorium is set to expire on Sept. 30.

Who’s eligible

Income-eligible applicants can qualify regardless of immigration status and no one is required to show proof of U.S. citizenship.

To be eligible, a household must be obligated to pay rent and meet these requirements:

  • Must be an L.A. resident
  • One or more people in the household have qualified for unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs or experienced other financial hardship due to COVID-19.
  • The household income is at or below 80% of the area median income (the application portal will let applicants know what that income is based on how many people they list in their household).

The Housing Is Key website lists increased costs for childcare, more expenses related to the health impact of COVID-19 and loss of income as some of the examples of COVID-19-related financial distress.

The state will first review and commit funds to applicants who are income-eligible and who are at the greatest risk of eviction, according to Housing Is Key website. The state will continue taking applications until all funds are exhausted.

Those who had been on a waitlist for months will be the priority, L.A. City Council President Nury Martinez said in a news conference Wednesday.

How to apply

Those interested can apply on HousingIsKey.com. Residents can also call the appointment call center at 833-687-0967 if they need help filling out an application. 

Renters will need:

  • Their 2020 tax return
  • 2020 W-2 and 1099G
  • Current pay stubs
  • Proof of participation in a state or federal subsidy program such as CalFresh or CalWORKS (A 2020 or 2021 acceptance or renewal letter is preferred)
  • If a tenant does not have tax returns or pay stubs, they can provide an employer statement with contact information such as name, address, phone, date of employment and income earned.

Tenants who need help with utility bills will also need invoices or statements for any unpaid utility, water, trash and internet bills after April 1, 2020.

Those who have already applied to the city’s program will be provided with detailed instructions on the next steps to take. Residents who applied can look up the status of their application here.

Landlords are encouraged to start an application through the website, and once it’s completed, renters will be notified. But a renter can still apply without help from the landlord, who will then be notified and asked to sign off to participate in the program.

If the landlord agrees to participate in this program, payment will be made directly to the landlord. If the landlord refuses to participate, payment will be made directly to the renter, who will have to use the money for rent.

“Los Angeles’ demand for rental assistance has far exceeded the City’s allocated funding, with $235.5 million received in the first round of funding compared to more than $500 million in rental debt reported in just the first year of the pandemic,” L.A. officials said in a news release. “The new partnership with the State will give Angelenos access to a much larger pool of resources and help to ensure that all qualified demand for assistance is met.”

Last year, the city allocated nearly $100 million that the L.A. Housing Department administered to more than 49,000 households in under six months.

“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,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti in a statement. “COVID-19 has dealt a devastating blow to our residents, and it’s our responsibility as a government to help them weather this crisis.”

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