$2.6B rent relief program hampered by delays
State approved less than 10% of applications as eviction moratorium set to expire June 30
California’s $2.6 billion program to aid renters and landlords has been hampered by bureaucratic delays and has received few applications after an early flood of interest.
Tenants and landlords have requested a third of the available funds, and the state has approved less than 10 percent of claims, according to the Los Angeles Times. Not all the money from approved claims was disbursed.
State lawmakers approved the relief program in January and opened it to applications in mid-March. The lack of applications stands in contrast to the program’s early days, when the state received a flood of requests. In the first day of online applications, 20,000 requests were filed.
The state’s eviction moratorium runs through June, in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s timeline.
Tenants and landlords can apply for the California program; tenants qualify if they are considered low-income. Landlords can receive 80 percent of a tenant’s back rent if they forgive the remaining 20 percent and agree to not evict them.
Tenants can receive 25 percent of their back rent if their landlord refuses to agree to those terms.
Elena Popp, executive director of the nonprofit group Eviction Defense Network, said that many tenants aren’t applying because they wrongly believe there is a blanket moratorium on evictions, or because they believe their landlord won’t apply.
“Their landlords are looking for a reason to get them out so they can raise the rents to market [rate],” she said.
The average approved payment for relief is $12,000, according to the state Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed a $5.2 billion program to cover 100 percent of back rent.
“That would likely open up the door much more widely so that we would start to see the flow of applications come in at the levels we would fully expect,” Geoffrey Ross, a state housing administrator, told the Times.
[LAT] — Dennis Lynch