Time running out for eligible Californians in need of COVID-19 rent relief

Using a breathing device, Margarita Amador struggles to breathe. 

She’s a COVID-19 long hauler. The 51-year-old had COVID-19 months ago and was hospitalized. 

She says it was really bad back then. She was out of work for six months. She couldn’t pay her rent despite applying for state disability. 

RELATED: California urging residents to apply for rental assistance before Mar. 31 deadline

And, finally, to help with her $1,900 a month rent she sought out rent relief. The back-debt piled up to about $14,000. 

Amador says it’s not a hard process, but it did take time. Amador says it took about four months to get relief. The state sent a check for $14,000 directly to her landlord.

If paying rent was a struggle for her and others, landlords have struggled too. State Assembly Member Miguel Santiago’s office says that renters getting relief puts money back into a landlord’s pocket. That helps them.

Santiago says, "Everybody has until the end of March immediately to get rental relief." 

The deadline is actually March 31. He says so far millions of dollars in help have been going out and there’s $1.6 billion of rental assistance still available.

Santiago says the state is paying out $100 million a week adding, "Hundreds of thousands of people have applied for this program. They’ve got to go through a qualification process and then those awarded will happen in the weeks after their application process."

Per Santiago, there are basically three ways to qualify. One is if you had COVID and it affected your ability to earn an income you’d qualify. If a family member had COVID and you had to care for them and could not earn an income you could also qualify. Finally, if the business you worked for had to close down because of COVID and that affected your income then you could qualify. You have to show that your inability to pay rent was because of COVID. Further, you must file your application with the state’s Housing Is Key website by March 31.

Margarita Amador says it made a difference in her life. Here is the Housing Is Key website.