As many as 74,074 renters in Los Angeles could get help from the city to pay their rent. | Getty Images/iStockphoto

But you have to qualify

If you’re a renter in the city of Los Angeles who earns $63,100 or less, City Hall might help pay your rent.

Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez is moving to put $100 million in federal coronavirus relief dollars into a local renters assistance program. The city would pay up to half of your rent—up to $1,000 each month—for two months, and the checks would go directly to landlords. The goal is to get the program up and running by July 1.

To qualify, renters would need to prove that they have been impacted by the pandemic. They would also need to meet income requirements: 80 percent of the area’s median income, which varies based on family size, but is $63,100 for a single household and $90,100 for a family of four, for example.

With LA’s unemployment rate at a record 19.6 percent, “there is an absolute feeling of desperation out there,” said Martinez. “There are people who were living pay check to pay check before the pandemic and are now living day by day.”

The city’s housing department estimates that as many as 74,074 renters could benefit from the program. Roughly 862,000 households citywide are renters.

The city had already planned to create a COVID-19 relief fund, but had only come up with about $3 million so far, all from council offices. The $100 million injection would make it “the largest rental relief fund in the nation” created by a city, Martinez said.

It will take some time to get the expanded program put together, because it’s up to the full City Council to decide how to spend its $694 million in federal CARES Act money, which must be used by the end of the year. But the proposal already has the support of John Lee, Mitch O’Farrell, and Herb Wesson, along with Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Martinez says she anticipates that demand will be so high that the volume of online applications could crash the housing department’s website.

“The need is so great,” she said.

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