More than 44,000 households have been paid or approved for payment
SACRAMENTO – California’s COVID-19 Rent Relief Program has assisted in over $1 billion in funding, meaning the money has either been paid or approved for payment and awaiting disbursement—and will assist over 74,000 additional households. More than $526 million of the $1 billion in rental and utility assistance has already been distributed to 44,432 low-income California households who suffered financial hardship because of the pandemic.
The milestone represents a 638 percent increase since Jun. 28, when Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 832, which increased the level of assistance to 100 percent for both back rent and prospective rent. More than 243,000 applications have been received, and more than $2.2 billion in rent and utility assistance is currently requested and is pending eligibility verification and fraud prevention screening.
“In just six months, we have provided essential assistance to more than 44,000 households to keep families safely housed,” said Governor Newsom. “Our program has been so successful that cities like Los Angeles decided to join efforts with the state to have an even greater impact.”
Bolstering tenant protections from eviction, beginning Oct. 1, through Mar. 31, 2022, tenants earning less than 80 percent of the area median income will be protected through a pre-eviction diversion process through the courts, so long as they have submitted a completed application for rental relief through either the state or a locally administered program.
“The COVID-19 pandemic brought so much pain and economic disruption, particularly to low-wage workers and low-income renter households,” said Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency (BCSH) Secretary Lourdes Castro Ramírez. “Working with over 130 community-based partners, we are reaching families hardest hit—85 percent being very low- or extremely low-income—and making landlords whole. Rent relief has been a game-changer for Californians at greatest risk of displacement or becoming homeless.”
“We have been moving with a sense of urgency to ensure that renters and landlords who need assistance can get it as quickly as possible,” said Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) Director Gustavo Velasquez. “Keeping families stably housed continues to be a critical public health measure, as we continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“California has made important improvements to its Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program and is now among the best statewide programs in the country by rate of spending and number of people assisted,” said President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition Diane Yentel. “While the program had early challenges, the state is to be commended for recognizing the need for improvements in program design and implementation and building on lessons learned to course correct. Now, California has one of the country’s more successful ERA programs and serves as a model to other states and localities to adopt evidence-based best practices to expedite assistance to tenants and landlords.”
In addition to providing 100 percent of back rent and prospective rent, AB 832 also gave California the most robust eviction protection in the nation. The extension of state-level eviction protections, initially established over a year ago, has provided much-needed housing stability for Californians throughout the pandemic. Additional protections will be in place through the end of March 2022 for households at or below 80 percent of Area Median Income and complete an application for assistance through either the state or locally administered programs.