The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown millions of people out of work, with many falling behind on rent. A hodgepodge of temporary eviction restrictions has kept many delinquent renters housed, but missed payments have to be paid back eventually.

By ANDREW KHOURI

To help, California set up a program that uses federal funds from the December stimulus law. The state program is designed to wipe away back rent accumulated by low-income tenants, while providing property owners most of the money those tenants owe.

The application system, for tenants and landlords, went live Monday. Within the first 24 hours, more than 20,000 applications were started.

Lourdes Castro Ramírez, secretary of the state’s Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency, said the program “will help keep thousands of people in their homes and eliminate a substantial amount of household debt that has been accruing during this pandemic.”

California launched its rent relief program Monday, aiming to wipe away the rent debt of low-income tenants and get the money into the hands of landlords.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

To qualify, tenants must have experienced a pandemic-related financial setback and demonstrate some risk of homelessness or housing instability. Tenants must also be low-income, which is defined as having a household income at or below 80% of the median income for an area, often a county.

According to the Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department’s website, it will begin accepting applications for people who live in the city on March 30. Richard de la Torre, a spokesman for Long Beach, said the county’s second-largest city hopes to have an online application “in the coming weeks.”

Both landlords and tenants can apply at the state’s website here. You can also call 833-430-2122.

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