Governor signs bill to use $2.6 billion in federal Covid-19 relief to help struggling renters
At the Mojave Blue Apartments in Palm Springs, Whitney Sanford is among those behind on rent right now, after being out of work for a couple of months.
"A little help is better than nothing, and that way I can feel secure. My home won't be taken away," said Sanford.
Sanford is among struggling tenants in the state relieved to hear that relief is on the way.
Under the plan, the state would use $2.6 billion in federal Covid-19 relief funds to pay up to 80 percent of a tenant's unpaid rent, if landlords forgive remaining debt.
It's for rent accumulated between April 1st, 2020 and March 31st, 2021.
Karen Robinson might later need help with her rent.
Right now she's paid up, but she's been out of work for nearly a year.
"Granted I'm able to pay my rent but that doesn't mean I have money to my name," said Robinson.
To qualify, tenants behind on rent had to earn less than 80 percent of area median income for 2020, with higher priority given to tenants earning less than 50 percent AMI.
The total amount of rent owed to California landlords is estimated somewhere between $400 million and $3.6 billion dollars.
John Xepoleas, founder of Xepco Property Management in Palm Desert is among those who welcome the plan.
He says a few of his tenants owe their landlords upwards of $25 thousand in unpaid rent.
"So there is no way they are going to be able to pay that back. So this will help the owners and the tenants," said Xepoleas.
Under SB 91, tenants and landlords are both eligible to apply for relief beginning this March.
Debra Carlton is the Executive Vice President of State Public Affairs for the California Apartment Association.
"We've heard from so many landlords who tell us they have not been paid. They're at risk of losing their housing to foreclosure," said Carlton.
The California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency is administering the rent relief program.
Click the link below to learn more.