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Today, on the one-year anniversary of the launch of the California COVID-19 Rent Relief program, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) announced it has received an additional $136 million from the U.S. Treasury (Treasury) to provide additional rent and utility assistance to low-income Californians. As of today, the program has paid out more than $2.36 billion to assist more than 206,000 low-income households across the state.  

“The California COVID-19 Rent Relief Program has been a game changer for struggling renter households across our state, and we continue moving with speed to deliver assistance to keep families facing financial hardship in their homes,” said Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency Secretary Lourdes Castro Ramírez. “As we mark the one-year anniversary, we pause to acknowledge the federal-state-local partnerships established to stand up the nation’s largest and most effective emergency rental relief program that has prevented over 200,000 households from being evicted; and we recommit to moving with urgency to equitably distribute rental assistance to households in need.”  

“We have accelerated the pace and number of payments week over week since the beginning of the program a year ago today,” said HCD Director Gustavo Velasquez. “Just last week, nearly 9,000 households were assisted, amounting to more than $81 million in rent and utility assistance.”  

As part of the Treasury reallocation process, unused federal funds are reallocated to state and local governments across the nation, with additional federal funds prioritized to jurisdictions with unmet need and a demonstrated ability to rapidly deploy these emergency resources.  

Through the first two rounds of federal reallocations, the state program has received nearly $200 million in additional federal funds, amounting to nearly one out of every three dollars that have been reallocated across the country. The state will continue to submit subsequent requests for reallocated federal funds in the months to come.  

Overall, one in four rent relief payments made nationally have been made in California. It is estimated that upon program completion, the state program will have distributed more than $4 billion in assistance to help keep low-income renters in their homes.  

“In establishing a Local Partner Network, the State’s rent relief program has been able to reach many of California’s most vulnerable populations,” said Tunua Thrash-Ntuk, Executive Director of Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Los Angeles. “Our Local Partner Network–a coordinated group of hundreds of community-based organizations–are trusted messengers already engrained in traditionally underserved communities. Whether it’s helping non-English speakers, those without access to the internet, or other challenges that an applicant might face, the combined knowledge and experience of the Local Partner Network has helped provide one-on-one support to qualified applicants as they move through the program. In turn, the partners have been able to provide real-time feedback to the State to help ensure the program has been effective in reaching the people who need it the most.”  

Of those assisted thus far, more than 86 percent are very low- or extremely low-income households, earning less than 50 percent of Area Median Income. Of those applying, more than 56 percent are women heads of household, and more than 27 percent of applicants are over the age of 50. The state will focus on prioritizing households who applied first and are at highest risk of eviction regardless of where they fall within the 80 percent Area Median Income and below eligibility.  

“I was out of work for six months due to my COVID scare and had a reduction in my income,” said rent relief recipient Margarita Amador. “It has taken so much stress off me. I’m so thankful and eternally grateful.”  

On February 9, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 115, which provides temporary state resources to help state and local rental assistance programs continue their operations as additional federal resources are made available. This funding is available to assist eligible applicants who submit a complete application on or before March 31, 2022, covering the period of April 1, 2020 through March 31, 2022.  

Tenants are encouraged to continue to apply for rent relief in order to receive AB 832 statewide eviction protections, which remain in place through the end of the month. In addition, some local eviction protections will remain in place past March 2022. We encourage tenants to check with their city or county regarding additional protections or resources that may be available in their communities.   Legal aid resources are available to support tenants navigating available protections. Low-or no-cost legal help is available through www.lawhelpca.org and/or the Tenant Resources page on HousingIsKey.com.