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Rent Relief, Rent Freeze Efforts Introduced At LA City Council

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A nearly empty chamber for a remote L.A. City Council meeting. (Screenshot shows streamed meeting)
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Motions to provide rent relief and freeze rents citywide were introduced today at the Los Angeles City Council meeting, part of the city’s evolving response to housing and economic issues triggered by the global coronavirus pandemic.

The rent relief effort seeks to reprise a program from late 2019 that helped low-income tenants facing big rent hikes pay their rent. The motion introduced today said that the previous program helped about 40 families in its three months of operation.

Now that program could return.

“This pandemic has the potential to result in thousands of families becoming homeless,” the motion introduced by Council President Nury Martinez states, adding that many renters faced a crushing burden before COVID-19 hit Los Angeles.

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The motion calls for a rent relief program “to assist renters facing financial difficulties” and identified $1.15 million to kickstart the effort. But the relief won’t begin flowing immediately — the City Council will have to pass the program at a future meeting.

A separate motion introduced today by 10th District Councilmember Herb Wesson seeks to channel federal stimulus money into a jobs program for Angelenos. That too will require council approval.

Councilmembers Mike Bonin and David Ryualso co-ntroduced several motions designed to assist renters during the crisis. One would freeze rents in all units across the City of Los Angeles. Another motion introduced by the duo would classify unpaid rent as consumer debt — making it collectible, as other debts are, but unable to lead to an eviction.

“We are in an economic crisis unlike anything we’ve ever seen, and our government is not meeting the severity of this moment with the strength required,” Ryu said in a statement.