Supervisors Pass Rent Assistance Effort, Expand Tenant Protections

A "for rent" sign is posted in front of a house in Richmond, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved measures to create a rental assistance program and expand eviction protections at a virtual meeting Tuesday morning.

The rent assistance fund will draw on CARES Act dollars from the federal government and will seek out other public and philanthropic sources, supervisors said. It could provide up to $1,000 per month for three months for renters who may be deciding between paying rent or buying food during a pandemic.

The effort is designed to cover renters around the county, including in some incorporated cities. It follows the introduction of a separate rent relief program making its way through Los Angeles City Council.


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The program was introduced by Supervisors Janice Hahn and Hilda Solis. "Paying back your rent could be an impossible hurdle for many of our low-income families, who frankly were already struggling," Hahn said on Tuesday.

A majority of Los Angeles County households are renters. Homeownership rates have been falling in the county in recent years.

The supervisors also stressed that the rental assistance would support landlords, many of whom are seeing tenants pay rent late or not at all.

The county will start seeking funding for the rental assistance fund, and a report will detail more program specifics in 30 days.

RENT FREEZE, EXPANDED EVICTION PROTECTIONS

The board also approved new tenant protections for renters in mobile home parks, including a moratorium on evictions of renters who can't pay for the space rental for their mobile homes.

"My motion today will ensure that the County's eviction moratorium will include individuals who live in mobile home communities, many of whom are older adults on fixed incomes," Supervisor Hilda Solis said.

The supervisor's motion also expands eviction protections to areas of the county that have not enacted their own measures.

"Expanding this temporarily to the entire county really will help us prevent people from falling into homelessness for a simple inability to pay rent," Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said at the meeting.

The measures will also:

  • Prohibit evictions based on unauthorized residents at a unit, pets, or nuisances related to COVID-19
  • Place a freeze on rent hikes — including for mobile home residents and renters in unincorporated areas covered by the county's rent stabilization laws
  • Prohibit late fees and interest on unpaid rent (though it falls short of the rent forgiveness measures some tenant advocates have called for)

Evictions are essentially paused across the state, as courts are not allowing these cases to move forward during the governor's emergency. If all this sounds redundant, keep in mind this patchwork of protections has emerged partly in response to tenants whose situations have remained vulnerable: earlier this month, some sheriff's departments in the state were going ahead with evictions in cases not directly related to COVID-19.

The new measures remain in effect for the moratorium period. Tenants will have a year to pay back rent after the moratorium lifts.