Long Beach likely to seek another $28M to help renters left out of assistance program

Long Beach renters who applied but were not among the thousands of households who had their missed rent or utility bills paid through the city’s emergency rental assistance program could be given a lifeline as the city applies for an additional $28 million in aid.

A new state program allows cities like Long Beach to take out temporary loans from the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development that are paid back by additional funding the city could receive from the U.S. Treasury. On Tuesday, the City Council will vote to approve the city’s Development Services department to move forward with the request.

Long Beach would be requesting just over $28 million from the Treasury, which took back funding from other cities and jurisdictions across the country that did not use their share of rent relief money fast enough.

To qualify for the relief program, households had to have an income between 50% and 80% of the area median income. For a family of four that range would be between $56,300 and $90,100. The missed rent payments eligible to be covered by the program are limited to before April 2022.

The additional money would help some of the nearly 16,000 people who completed applications before the city stopped taking them in March but are at risk of receiving nothing because the funding ran out.

It’s unclear how many of the applicants it would help because the amounts owed and the price of each applicants’ monthly rents differ. The city’s most recent update on disbursements showed 187 applicants were approved for $1.5 million. That’s an average of about $8,020 per household.

Chelsey Magallon, a spokesperson for the department, said the department was waiting to release specifics like how many households could be served by the money because the issue is still pending. Magallon said if the funding is approved, households already in the city’s applicant pool would be eligible for help.

If the city does receive the full amount from the federal government, it would go back to the state to repay the loan. If the Treasury doesn’t grant the full amount to the city, the state could forgive the entire amount.

The loan program was passed as part of the 2022 budget as a way for cities to get more aid to renters and their landlords who went without payment for portions of the pandemic as people lost jobs or had their hours reduced.

The city received $64 million in two waves of state and federal assistance meant to help renters who fell behind on payments during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the volume of applications has dwarfed the amount of available funding and the city, which closed its application window in March, expects to distribute the rest of the money by June.

To date, the city has received requests for over $227 million in aid for both rent and utility assistance, according to the city’s website.

An eviction moratorium passed by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in January allows the county’s poorest residents, those eligible for the rent assistance program, to gain another year of eviction protection.

The deadline to self-certify as being economically affected by the pandemic is approaching at the end of the month. Those that can prove they were unable to pay rent because of the pandemic would be protected through June 2023.

County eviction ban extended with low-income renters shielded through June 2023

Long Beach rental aid running out, but more money could be on the way

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Jason Ruiz has been covering City Hall for the Post for nearly a decade. A Long Beach resident, Ruiz graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a degree in journalism. He and his wife Kristina and, most importantly, their dog Mango, live in Long Beach. He is a particularly avid fan of the Dallas Cowboys and the UCLA Bruins, which is why he sometimes comes to work after the weekend in a grumpy mood.
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