Mark Zuckerberg, wife fund program for South LA landlords

Money will cover back rent, repairs, financial training for owners

Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan (Getty, iStock)
Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan (Getty, iStock)

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan are funding a program to support small South Los Angeles landlords.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative joined other nonprofits and the Coalition for Responsible Community Development to distribute $5 million to landlords, according to the L.A. Times. The program is called the Los Angeles Local Renters Owners Collaborative.

The money is meant to cover back rent and property repairs. Mom-and-pop landlords have been among the hardest-hit business owners during the coronavirus pandemic.

The goal is to keep local landlords out of financial distress that could force them to sell assets to operators that have little connection to a community and fewer qualms about raising rents or forcing out tenants.

The program, which launched Thursday, will also provide financial coaching for small landlords, including helping them pool resources to gain discounts on insurance, mortgages and legal services.

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A McKinsey report found that eight in 10 L.A. County homes that are affordable to households with incomes at 80 percent of median income are rented at those prices because the landlord chooses to do so. Those units are not supported by government subsidy or other aid.

Three out of four of those so-called naturally occurring affordable housing units are owned by individuals, according to the Times.

To qualify for the L.A. Local Renters Owners Collaborative, a landlord must have at least one tenant behind on rent, own two to 20 units, and own property in Historic South Central, South Park or Central-Alameda. The program is intended to help BIPOC landlords — Black, indigenous, and people of color.

Landlords and tenants have been quick to apply for rent relief offered by the state of California and the city of L.A. The state received 20,000 applications within the first day of launching a program last month. The city’s program went live March 30.

[LAT] — Dennis Lynch