Long Beach residents struggling to pay rent and utilities due to the pandemic have received over $58.8 million since the city’s rent assistance program began in April 2021.
Now, another $13.1 million in state loans will continue funding the Long Beach Emergency Rental Assistance Program, and the city expects to help an additional 1,400 low-income residents pay missed rent and utility bills that were due on or before March 31. The new funding is expected to be dispersed by October.
Apart from the additional 1,400 households, there are currently 1,375 applications that have been processed and are awaiting final approval with $9.6 million the city had remaining in the initial funding, the city said in an Aug. 15 update.
More than 34,000 people registered for the program, and just over 12,000 completed applications.
So far, 7,250 payments to landlords and utility providers have been made, city officials said. The city said roughly 97% of the payments were made on behalf of residents earning less than 50% of the area median income.
To qualify for the relief program, households had to have an income of no more than 80% of the area median income. For a family of four the maximum threshold would be $90,100.
“The pandemic is still having a financial impact on many residents and we must continue to get assistance to those most in need,” said Mayor Robert Garcia in a press release Monday.
“This funding will help us support more people here in Long Beach and we’re grateful to the State for helping us expand these efforts.”
The city received the $13.1 million cash flow loan from the California Department of Housing and Community Development last month through Senate Bill 115, a state budget act that allows cities like Long Beach to request loans to be repaid using future federal funding.
Since the start of the program, the city has received over $64 million to help renters who fell behind on payments during the COVID-19 pandemic, though the requests for funding have exceeded that amount significantly. The program closed its application window in March.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many people have benefitted from the program and how many are still awaiting approval.
The rental assistance program “has provided critical rental relief for individuals and families throughout the pandemic,” said Long Beach Development Services Acting Director Christopher Koontz in a release. “Our team remains committed to doing all that we can to offer support to renters and landlords in their greatest time of need, and we are thankful to the State for helping us achieve this goal.”
A countywide eviction moratorium, which was renamed the COVID-19 Tenant Protections Resolution, was extended until Dec. 31 earlier this year. It will protect the county’s poorest residents, those making less than 80% of the area median income, from eviction and rent increases. A family of four with a household income of $93,500 or less would meet the upper threshold to qualify in LA county.