The portal for landlords and tenants to apply for California’s COVID-19 rent relief opened on Monday and the application system received over 20,000 within 24 hours.
The influx of applicants is unsurprising as tenants and landlords continued to fall behind in rent and mortgage payments after the pandemic left millions without jobs across the nation.
“Whether it’s a health-related event or a significant financial hardship, COVID-19 has affected us all,” recognizes the program on the homepage.
A total of $2.6 billion will be available for income-eligible households that need help paying rent and utilities. The money comes from federal funds made available through December’s stimulus law, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed.
Eligible tenants must be low-income, with a household income at or below 80 percent of their area’s median income. This income will be based on 2020 or current income, acknowledging how the pandemic drastically changed the incomes of many.
If approved, tenants will have all debt accrued from April 1 of last year to March 31, 2021, wiped away, but only if their landlord agrees to forgive 20 percent of the debt. The state will pay owners the remaining 80 percent. Without landlord agreement, the state will provide funds to pay a quarter of owed rent.
“We know that tenants and landlords have been stressed. They have been worried about what’s going to happen. And we can now give them a program that gives them a clear path forward of how to help resolve the unfortunate situation where a lot of folks fell behind on their rent,” said Geoffrey Ross, deputy director for federal financial assistance at the California Department of Housing and Community Development according to KQED.