Taking action to keep Angelenos inside
It has been several months since the pandemic has waned, and the short-term effects were devastating and fatal, but long-term effects could be catastrophic and demoralizing for California residents.
During the pandemic, people were losing their jobs, and California leaders announced that homeowners and renters would receive grace on their bills regarding their homes or apartments. They started several programs to accommodate both parties to help with their financial situations for the duration of the crisis. That grace is now over, and many residents fear adding to the housing crisis as they figure out how to pay back rent and catch up on mortgage payments before the deadline passes.
Previous protections enacted by the City Council set an Aug. 1 deadline for tenants to pay any back rent due for the period between March 2020 and September 2021. For rent due between October 2021 and January 31 of this year, tenants have until February 2024 to pay any back rent.
On Aug. 1, city officials want to let residents know there is help available to them, “I want to close by emphasizing that our goal is to keep people in their homes,’’ Mayor Karen Bass said during a July 31 news conference at City Hall. “The city is taking unprecedented actions to keep Angelenos inside, and to make sure that landlords, especially small landlords, do not go into foreclosure.’’ According to city data, eviction filings from the past 12 months were approximately 27,000 and may increase by another 10,000 for this upcoming year.
The mayor’s office and the Los Angeles Housing Department have launched public information campaigns to inform tenants about protections and resources for Angelenos. The organization’s “We Are LA’’ program began recently, intended to help at-risk Angelenos stay housed. Outreach teams connected with nearly 41,000 Angelenos and made case management appointments with more than 10,000 Angelenos. The program aims to connect with more than 200,000 in the coming weeks. Raman and Bass also said the courts will be expanding on-site resources in the courthouses for people in need.
“The courts will be encouraged in cases to enter into mediation and other pathways for alternative resolution,’’ Raman said. “Mayor Bass and I call on judges to do as much of this as possible to give people the lifeline they need to find the resources to help stay housed.’’
The spending plan proposes the following:
— $18.4 million for a short-term emergency assistance program, allowing eligible-income tenant households to apply for up to six months owed back rent;
— $23 million for the city’s Eviction Defense/Prevention program, which would expand the Stay Housed LA program, a partnership with Los Angeles County, legal service providers,, and community organizations;
— $5.5 million for a tenant outreach and education program to provide both broad and targeted tenant education outreach services, including workshops, and legal services; and
— $11.2 million for a protections from tenant harassment program to inform tenants and landlords of their rights and obligations. The council adopted the Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance in August 2021 to protect tenants from harassment by landlords.
Anna Ortega, assistant general manager of the Housing Department, said that if she could leave one message with the public, it would be: ``If you receive an eviction notice, don’t wait. Act right away.’’
“It’s important that you get help and respond to an unlawful detainer within five days,’’ Ortega said.