LA considers emergency rent relief program

Measure would pay a portion of rent for 3 months to those most affected by pandemic

Nury Martinez
Nury Martinez

Los Angeles is now considering bringing back a citywide program that helps vulnerable residents cover their rent.

Under the measure, the City Council would cover a portion of the rent for three months, according to the Los Angeles Times. The moves comes as California — and much of the nation — remains under stay-at-home orders, with nonessential businesses forced to close because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Council President Nury Martinez and Councilmember Herb Wesson introduced the measure to allocate funds for the program, the Times reported. The “emergency renters relief” program was created late last year, after L.A. officials received complaints from renters that their landlords were hiking rents before a statewide rent cap law could take effect. The Council also barred rent increases leading up to day the California rent law took effect, on Jan. 1.

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Under the current emergency bill, Martinez would contribute $1 million of her discretionary funds, while Wesson would contribute $150,000. The rest would come from the city housing department.
To help soften the economic blow from the pandemic, city and state officials have over the last month provided L.A. renters with a number of protections.

Both residential and commercial evictions are barred for a year, though landlords have still demanded rent and have tried to get renters to sign restrictive payment plans, according to reports.

The Council has also taken up a handful of other measures meant to help residents, many of whom have been laid off. Wesson and Martinez want to use federal stimulus money for a jobs program. Once the stay-at-home order gets lifted, the city would employ people on infrastructure projects, for park improvements and affordable housing construction, among others. [LAT]Dennis Lynch