LOS ANGELES - Beginning Wednesday, Los Angeles renters and landlords can apply for additional rental assistance through a state program that city officials say will allow checks to get to qualified applicants quicker.
Those who qualify can apply at HousingIsKey.com or by calling 833-687- 0967. People who already applied for the city's program will be contacted with instructions for next steps. The application period opened at 7 a.m.
The program may cover renters' unpaid rent dating back to April 1, 2020, as well as future payments. The program also has funding available for owed utility payments and may cover 100% of owed payments for a total of 12 months, including for months dating back to April 1, 2020, as well.
Income-eligible renters are qualified regardless of immigration status if they have been impacted by COVID-19 and have unpaid rent. The state will determine if the applicant is income eligible after they apply.
City Council President Nury Martinez, Deputy Mayor Che Ramirez and Ann Sewill, general manager of the LA Housing Department, joined state officials Wednesday morning at City Hall to mark the opening of the Housing is Key rental assistance portal.
"This partnership between the city and the state continues our promise we made to Angelenos early on in the pandemic, and we will make sure that we get through this together," Martinez said.
"With the new funding from the state, 100% of qualified rental assistance requests will be met," she said. "For those of you who are on the wait list for months, you will be the priority. And for those of you who have not yet applied, there is an opportunity starting today to seek that help."
As of Aug. 27, the city's program had approved about 17,000 households for rental assistance. Landlords are expected to receive a total of about $235 million in funds to pay off the tenants' back rent. About 4,000 landlords have already received the funds.
California has committed $5.2 billion in rental relief funds for California residents. According to the LA Housing Department, the projected need for rental assistance in Los Angeles is about $950 million.
"We've paid out nearly $426 million across the state. These payments are increasing -- only a few weeks ago we were paying about $20 million a week. We're up to $50 million a week, and we know with this partnership there will be an incredible acceleration in the number of not only applicants from the city, but also payments," said Gustavo Velasquez, director of the Department of Housing and Community Development, administrator of the CA COVID-19 Rent Relief Program.
"Time is of the essence ... the federal extended unemployment insurance benefits end September 4, just around the corner," he said. "And then the eviction protections across the state end at the end of the month, September 30. So I cannot emphasize how important it is for you all to help us spread this information because time is of the essence here. We need Angelenos to apply to this program."
Ramirez also urged people to apply to the program as soon as possible, saying he was speaking not only as the city's deputy mayor but as someone who has experienced homelessness.
"I know how easily a missed paycheck or an emergency expense can result in homelessness for vulnerable renters in our city, and the city of Los Angeles has taken bold steps to protect renters during the pandemic," Ramirez said.