Board of Supervisors unanimously approve emergency rent-assistance program

A motion to create a countywide emergency rent-assistance program amid the COVID-19 crisis was approved unanimously Tuesday, April 14 by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

The motion was authored by LA County Supervisors Janice Hahn and Hilda Solis.

The program would provide up to $1,000 a month for three months for renters whose income has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, according to a press release from the office of Supervisor Hahn.

“As we fight the spread of this virus and do everything we can to save lives, this crisis has devastated families who were already living on the brink of poverty,” Supervisor Hahn said in a press release. “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. A Countywide rent assistance program would help keep people in their homes and lessen some of the long-term economic damage this pandemic will have on families.”

This emergency-relief program comes after The LA County Board of Supervisors implemented a rent freeze and eviction moratorium to make sure families didn’t lose their homes during the pandemic. That rent however, would need to be paid back following the crisis.

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

“The majority of LA county renters, about 57%, are rent-burdened,” Solis said. “Nearly one third are considered severely rent burdened meaning that they spend more than 50% of their household income on rent. “[…] I know this will help those impacted, low and moderate income families that are experiencing this financial uncertainty right now that is destabilizing their households. I am very much supportive of this.”

It is not yet known how many families will be eligible for the emergency assistance, that number will be contingent on the level of funding the county expects to receive from the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES).

“We don’t know how much funding we will get from CARES round two,” the Supervisor’s Communications Director, Liz Odendahl said. However, this information will be available soon.

Additional funding could come from philanthropy and private sources, according to the press release.

It is not yet known if there will be a minimum or cap on renter’s income to be eligible for the program, according to Odendahl.

During the meeting, it was announced that 38 comments, all in support, were submitted for the program by the public.

“There’s a huge need for this now, […] the sooner we can do this, the sooner we can get ahead of all this, the better we’ll be,” Hahn said.

An implementation plan for the program will be reported back to the Board in 30 days.

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