Long Beach could begin assisting qualifying renters with their monthly housing costs starting in July, the mayor announced Wednesday.

The proposal, to be debated by the City Council on June 2, would use $5 million in federal and state funding to provide up to $1,000 per household for three months.

The money would be paid directly to landlords on behalf of the tenants for up to three months. The City Council will determine if the payments are $1,000 per month or a smaller payment made on behalf of a larger pool of eligible residents.

A memo to the city manager’s office made public Wednesday shows that the city could help about 1,600 households for three months at the $1,000 level. But if it were dropped to $800, the city could assist 2,083 households; or to $500 per month, which would assist 3,333 households.

To be eligible, a household would have to be making no more than 80% of the area median income before being impacted by COVID-19. That could range from $63,000 for a one-person household to $118,950 for a household of eight.

Mayor Robert Garcia said the program would help both tenants struggling to pay their rents because of COVID-19 related impacts, but also the landlords who are not able to collect rents.

“For us we know that the virus has really hit families hard,” Garcia said. “It’s hit tenants and small properties owners as well. This is going to help tenants who are really struggling. It’s also going to help those small mom and pop property owners who may only have a few units but still have a mortgage with no rent coming in.”

The item initially came at the request of Councilman Al Austin in late April as he was pushing to design a program similar to what the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors had already adopted on April 14.

The county’s program also granted $1,000 rental payments for three months to eligible households; however, because Long Beach gets its own federal funding, residents here were not eligible to apply for the county program.

Garcia said that the city could potentially look to extend the program past the proposed three month limit if the economy continues to falter— and if the city is able to acquire more funds.

He said that the city has already reached out to the county to see if the county would subsidize the Long Beach program, which could expand the amount of people the city could help or the amount of money able to be paid on their behalf.

When asked if undocumented residents would be eligible for the program, Garcia said that while he wasn’t sure of what the details will be after the council’s vote, he thought that “they likely would.”

“We need to help everyone in our community right now,” Garcia said. “Whether someone is documented or undocumented is irrelevant.”

A tenant trying to apply for the benefits would have to submit proof of job loss, furlough, reduction in hours or proof of receipt of unemployment benefits during the eligible period that runs from March 27 through present.

A self-employed resident can certify their economic impacts by providing a description of their business and how it’s been impacted by the pandemic shutdowns. Other tax and residency documents will be required when filling out the assistance program application.

The council is expected to vote on the program at its June 2 meeting, which would set in motion an amendment process where the city will submit a plan to the federal government for approval to use the funds for rental assistance.

In late June, the city would begin to advertise the program and applications would being to be accepted on July 6. The application period would close July 20 and initial payments could be issued by the end of July.

Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.