[UPDATED] City officials have distributed roughly $480,000 of the $1 million in available funding to help cover the back rent of renters affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The city’s ERA program accepted applications between July 15 and July 29. The program allows for the city to help renters pay up to three months of overdue rent, capped at a maximum of $4,500 per household.
“To date, checks for 128 renter households have been approved,” Pasadena Housing Director Bill Huang said Wednesday.
The average amount distributed to each household was $3,750, amounting to roughly $480,000 of the ERA program funds used so far, he said.
Another 120 to 140 households are expected to receive assistance over the coming four weeks as the remaining $520,000 is distributed, according to Huang. By the end of the program, “we anticipate serving around 250 to 270 households.”
Late last month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation to extend the state’s moratorium on evictions for tenants of rental properties who assert hardship suffered between March 4 and Aug. 31 due to the pandemic through Jan. 31.
“For a COVID-19 related hardship that accrues between September 1, 2020 – January 31, 2021, tenants must also pay at least 25 percent of the rent due to avoid eviction,” the governor’s office said in a written statement.
“Tenants are still responsible for paying unpaid amounts to landlords, but those unpaid amounts cannot be the basis for an eviction,” the statement said. “Landlords may begin to recover this debt on March 1, 2021, and small claims court jurisdiction is temporarily expanded to allow landlords to recover these amounts. Landlords who do not follow the court evictions process will face increased penalties.”
Newsom said the move was needed due to the vulnerable position the pandemic has placed tenants in.
“COVID-19 has impacted everyone in California — but some bear much more of the burden than others, especially tenants struggling to stitch together the monthly rent, and they deserve protection from eviction,” Newsom said upon . “This new law protects tenants from eviction for non-payment of rent and helps keep homeowners out of foreclosure as a result of economic hardship caused by this terrible pandemic.”
The state cannot fix the problem on its own, the governor said. Federal assistance will be required.
“California is stepping up to protect those most at-risk because of COVID-related nonpayment, but it’s just a bridge to a more permanent solution once the federal government finally recognizes its role in stabilizing the housing market,” Newsom said. “We need a real, federal commitment of significant new funding to assist struggling tenants and homeowners in California and across the nation.”