More than 10,000 tenants and landlords have completed the initial registration, but only 3,635 have submitted formal requests for help, according to Richard De La Torre, spokesperson for the city’s development services department, which manages the program. rent assistance.
As of this week, $ 5 million had been distributed or approved for distribution as a program deadline of July 11 to apply the approaches. While state and county officials have extended eviction bans for non-payment of rent linked to the pandemic until September, De La Torre said the city has yet to decide whether to extend it. again the period of application of the program.
âThe department is aware of county and state actions regarding the moratorium on evictions,â De La Torre said in an email. âFor now, the application deadline is July 11 as planned. However, staff will assess the application data to determine if the deadline should be extended. “
The program was available to Long Beach residents earning 80% of the area’s median income or less, with those earning 50% of the area’s median income being prioritized. The city defined 80% as $ 90,100 for a family of four or $ 53,300 for those with 50% of the region’s median income.
All applicants were required to present proof of loss of income due to the pandemic and a host of other documents like rental contracts, proof of income and proof of housing instability, such as an eviction notice. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last month that the program will now cover 100% of unpaid rents, rather than the 80% deal reached by lawmakers earlier this year.
It is not known how many households in Long Beach have been assisted to date, nor how many claims have been submitted by tenants whose landlords have chosen not to participate in the program. De La Torre said those two figures were not readily available.
Deployments have been slow nationwide with a fraction of the $ 46.5 billion Congress allocated during the pandemic to help tenants settle debts that have accumulated as they have lost. of income due to the pandemic.
End of June, Arizona only distributed 10% of the $ 500 million received from the federal government. New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida have neither spent nor reallocated $ 250 million in aid to help tenants, according to an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity and the Associated Press.
The Washington Post reported this week that only $ 1.5 billion of the $ 25 billion allocated by the US Treasury in December to help tenants was actually spent on rent, utilities, or arrears between January and May 2021. The Treasury does not have no data on how the second allocation of $ 21 billion was allocated through the US bailout was used.
There have been a host of issues that have contributed to the slowness of helping tenants and landlords in many cities, like Long Beach, create and staff a program from scratch to reach vulnerable populations. who may need the help the most and the income limits that have blocked many from applying.
Mike Murchison, a lobbyist representing the Small Property Owners Alliance, has been criticizing the program for months because it limits who can apply by income level even though people of all income have lost their jobs and may not have paid any money. rent during the pandemic.
âIf the federal and state government were serious about giving homeowners 100% of the rent, they would throw off the strings and ask landlords to apply for relief,â Murchison said.
A spokesperson for the US Treasury said the department has the ability to reallocate unspent rent relief funds starting in the fall.
De La Torre said in an email that the city does not expect to have any remaining funds at the end of the city’s program.
With just over a day to meet the current application deadline, there are still community groups running pop-up events to help tenants complete applications and get their files into the hands of the city before. that she does not close the door of the program on Sunday evening.
Hilda Gaytan, president and co-founder of Puente Latino Association, an organization the city hired to raise awareness for the Rental Assistance Program in Latino Neighborhoods, is hosting a last-minute event in North Long Beach on Saturday.
Gaytan said she was concerned that many residents in need could not receive rent relief either because they took out personal loans and used other lines of credit to survive the pandemic – which are not. did not trust the process.
Confidence in the program could have been bolstered by a faster flow of money to residents, which could have prompted more people to act as the relief program was proven to be real, Gaytan said. Unfortunately, the money has not gone fast enough and skepticism remains, she added.
The outreach work she did this year was rewarding, however, as her team were able to help people understand the basics of their phones, like how to use their email and how to complete online applications. Gaytan hopes this will make life easier for these people the next time they need to apply for something in the city.
âIt was a very painful but rewarding experience because I learned so much about the community, its pain and its needs,â Gaytan said.
The deadline to apply for the Long Beach Emergency Rental Assistance Program is Sunday July 11. can be submitted here.