Supes extend eviction ban and rent relief program

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The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved Tuesday extending and enhancing the countywide ban on evictions and a rent-relief program as the county awaits its share of the $25 billion in additional federal assistance for renters. 

Supervisors Hilda Solis and Janice Hahn co-authored the motion that makes the federally funded rent-relief program active through Dec. 31. California could receive an estimated $2 billion in rental assistance funds, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom. 

The program will make available $10,000 in rental assistance for eligible households that make up to 50% of the average median income, an increase from the $7,500 previously offered. It will also make direct payments to households to pay their rent in cases where landlords refuse to participate in the program and allow payments for tenants who have had to use credit cards or loans to pay their rent. 

“Clearly, one of the many consequences of this pandemic has been this incredible strain on the backs of our L.A. County renters,” said Hahn. “Hundreds of thousands are struggling to pay their rent on time or even pay their rent at all.” 

In California, an estimated 240,000 households could face eviction following expired protections in the state, which are set to end Jan. 31, after falling behind in rent that collectively amounts to $1.67 billion, according to an October study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia on household rental debt during the pandemic. 

“We recognize that this could be a real tsunami of evictions if the county did not step up and protect our renters in a responsible way,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “No one should be threatened with eviction or made homeless by the pandemic.”

Property owners will also receive direct payments from the county to supplement partial payments previously made on behalf of eligible households, according to the approved motion, which added that about 70% of those that qualified for assistance received partial aid. 

“I hope that with more funding, we can help more tenants stay housed, which is critical, and help the property owners keep their property upon which so many are financially dependent,” said Supervisor Holly Mitchell. 

The board also approved extending the countywide ban on evictions through Feb. 28 for renters who have not been able to pay their rent due to struggles related to the coronavirus crisis. This means that if California legislators do not pass the proposed Assembly Bill 16 or other efforts to extend statewide protections, renters in the L.A. County will remain protected for at least an additional month under the county’s extension. 

Hundreds of comments that the supervisors received urged them to extend protections until the end of the state of emergency, as well as issue stronger anti-harassment measures. Others suggested the board adopt the “Healthy LA” proposal, which pushes for canceling rent for all tenants and providing mortgage relief. 

Supervisor Kathryn Barger and Hahn amended the moratorium to include more support and acknowledgment of landlords by directing the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs to convene a group of tenants and property owners so that they can further discuss the ban on evictions until it is lifted. 

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