What you need to know about L.A.'s new 'Emergency Renters Relief Program'

Los Angeles city officials Wednesday are scheduled to provide information on the Emergency Renters Relief Program, which will subsidize housing for low-income earners whose rent has been significantly increased until a new state law goes into effect on Jan. 1.

The Los Angeles City Council in October approved just under $3 million for the program that makes up the rent differences through the end of the year.

City Councilwoman Nury Martinez created the proposal for the program, which she said is especially important during the holiday months to keep people in their homes.

"This is an emergency (for) good people who are doing the best they can to make ends meet and stay in their apartments," Martinez said.

Related: Report: The annual income needed to afford a home in LA County is $127K

Martinez said her office and the Housing and Community Investment Department staff worked with the city's Family Source Centers to create an online application for funding and to train staff to be, in most cases, the first point of contact for people who might need assistance, as the centers regularly work with families in need.

Funds to cover the difference of rent increases will be available to tenants and families at or below 80% of area median income and where an eviction lawsuit for non-payment of rent has not yet been adjudicated.

The money will come from a renters' legal fund that the city established to provide tenants with legal representation when facing eviction.

Renters in California are currently in a bit of a gray area until the beginning of the new year. The City Council last month voted to ban evictions in which the tenant is not at fault until Jan. 1, when the provisions of a state law, AB 1482, will go into effect.

According to the upcoming law, rents would be rolled back to no more than what was charged on March 15, 2019, plus 5% (or about 9% in Los Angeles) above the consumer price index.

The relief program will provide funds for eligible renters for up to three months to cover rental increases that are above about 8% before the state law kicks in.

Martinez said the city is not legally able to freeze rent increases until Jan. 1, but she said this money should keep people from being evicted.

Council members said they've heard complaints coming from tenants that their rents are being raised significantly prior to the new law, as some landlords are bracing for the changes.

HCIDLA officials said they estimate for every $1 million in the fund, about 250 to 400 families could be assisted, but the actual number will depend upon on how much people's rent is increased.

The last day for people to apply for the subsidy for rent is Dec. 31. People can find out if they qualify for funds by calling 1-866-557-7368.