Anyone who has searched for apartments to rent knows the cost that comes with moving to a new place, including the fees associated with applications and credit checks.
These types of fees can add up to hundreds of dollars if families end up applying to multiple locations until they are finally approved, and once they are, they are then required to pay a security deposit on top of their first month’s rent.
However, with the help of Second District Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce, Long Beach Residents Empowered (LiBRE) and Long Beach Community Action Partnership (LBCAP) have teamed up to help ease the financial burden associated with finding housing for low-income families.
Scheduled to launch June 1, the Rental Application Assistance Program (RAAP) will be reimbursing application and credit check fees for eligible individuals and families looking to rent in the city.
“This is just one example of what we can accomplish when we bring all stakeholders to the table with the intent of finding solutions,” said Pearce in a statement. “There is a lot of work to be done, but I am proud to see this program lifting off. This is a community based initiative, which is a beautiful thing, and my office is here to offer support in any way we can.”
RAAP evolved from LiBRE’s 2017 credit check reform campaign during which it encouraged city officials to assist in reforming the current application process due to the increased cost burdens being felt by renters, according to LiBRE’s Program Director Jorge Rivera (no relation to this writer).
“Individuals and families are finding themselves having to apply to multiple places due to the low vacancy rates,” Rivera said. “The costs of applying can easily add up and still people have to save for the first month’s rent and security deposit, on top of the application costs, making it more difficult financially.”
As a community organization that works directly with low-income communities, LiBRE will handle the outreach efforts and identify eligible applicants while LBCAP will serve as the fiscal agent, accepting donations and reimbursing applicants.
Darick Simpson, executive director of LBCAP, said his organization will be responsible for processing the applications once applicants are verified to reimburse funds within a two-week time frame.
Simpson said it is important to work expeditiously since many of these applicants rely on funds for other necessities.
“It is daunting for those who live paycheck to paycheck,” said Simpson, who noted he was enlightened by the process, which can add up to several hundred dollars per household even if declined.
Currently, $26,000 has been identified by Pearce for the program—$25,000 raised by local lobbyist Mike Murchison and $1,000 raised by former Long Beach Councilman Gary DeLong.
Rivera said it is hard to estimate how many people will be assisted with the limited funds since the same individual or family might apply to multiple places, there may be multiple applicants charged on one application, or there may be different locations that charge different amounts.
However, based on the maximum amount that can be charged for application processing and credit check fees, Rivera believes anywhere from 400 to 500 reimbursements will be issued.
Stephanie Rivera covers immigration and the north, west and central parts of Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter at @StephRivera88.
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