LA’s new relief program could pay all your COVID-driven rental debt. Here’s how you qualify

A rental sign is seen in front of an apartment building along Cardiff Ave. in the Palms neighborhood of Los Angeles. This week, LA leaders announced a new plan to eliminate all rental debt accumulated by low-income households due to COVID-19. Photo by Amy Ta.

On Wednesday, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council members announced a new plan to eliminate all rental debt accumulated by low-income households due to the pandemic. That means if you couldn’t pay rent because of COVID-19, and you make below a certain income, the state will pay it all for you. You can submit an application starting September 1.

You qualify if:

  • Your trouble paying rent is the result of the pandemic. So for instance, you were laid off due to COVID-19, or took time off to care for a sick family member, or saw your hours cut because of the economic slowdown.
  • You live in the city limits of Los Angeles.
  • Your income is no more than 80% of the area median income for a household your size. The state calculates this when you apply, so if you think you might qualify, submit an application and the state will let you know.

How much of your back-due rent will be covered?

If you meet the criteria above the full amount of your pandemic rental debt will be paid to your landlord. If landlords don’t want to participate for any reason, tenants can receive the payments directly and use the money to pay back rent.

Can landlords apply?

Yes, but landlords will need cooperation from tenants who have missed payments to show that they meet the eligibility criteria.

Didn’t LA already offer rental assistance?

Yes. The application period for a similar, city-run program closed in April after all the money was spoken for, leaving tens of thousands of qualified applicants and renters without assistance. This time around, the state will administer the program, allowing LA to access a larger pool of funds and disburse the money more quickly. The goal is to assist every eligible applicant who was shut out the last time around, plus any new qualified applicants.    

Where to apply and when you’ll get your money

You can apply for assistance starting at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 1 at HousingIsKey.com. Residents can also reach the appointment call center at 833-687-0967 for help filling out the application. Renters who have already applied to the city’s program will receive detailed instructions on next steps, according to city officials. More information is available at hcidla.lacity.org

According to state officials, they’re close to achieving a 30-day timeline between applying and getting money in hand.