In an effort to help get more tenants and property owners approved for financial support, the Long Beach City Council approved the process of creating a single application for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) on Tuesday, Oct. 5.
ERAP is a part of the Long Beach Recovery Act, a plan aimed to bolster the city’s economy, keep communities safe and establish a secure future, according to the Office of the Mayor. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 provides the funding to support ERAP and implements tenant protection laws made by California, according to the Long Beach Development Services.
Although the Eviction Moratorium expired at the end of last month, there are 15,800 households still behind on paying their rent, Vice Mayor Rex Richardson said.
“We can help make a difference if we expedite getting this funding out,” Richardson said. “At the current pace, we’ll take until August 2022 to distribute all of our money.”
The City of Long Beach has approximately $64 million in funds to support members of the community struggling to pay rent but the application process has left people discouraged from receiving help. The new application process, which the council approved in an 8 to 0 vote, is expected to provide a solution.
Richardson also said “the most significant burden for applicants is the stringent requirements needed for the application” because tenants have to “prove that they are 80% or below an area median income, prove their economic situation was impacted by the pandemic and prove that they are at a point towards housing insecurity.”
Councilwoman Mary Zendejas said there are still about 8,500 applications that have not been completed.
“That means that there are thousands of potentially low-income households who need this support,” she said.
By approving the new process, there would be a streamlined approach to getting more people in vulnerable areas approved, allow for advance payments to landlords with lower requirements to prove eligibility, an application process that puts tenants together in high-risk areas, which gets money out faster, according to the agenda.
Councilwoman Cindy Allen said she was in support of the motion because of what she has seen in her district.
“People really need this,” Allen said. “I know, I’ve heard from a lot of my residents, and looking at your numbers we all know that this is really necessary.”
According to the Department of Development Services, just under 30% of the funding has been distributed of the Rental Assistance funds, which is about 2,500 households who have been helped to pay their rent thus far.
During public comment, Elsa Tung, a program manager at Long Beach Forward also showed support for the motion,
“[This] would allow property owners and tenants to organize the submissions for groups of vulnerable tenants,” she said. “Emergency rental assistance is not the answer towards the eviction crisis, so let’s please vote to make it more efficient and effective.”
The Long Beach City Council will reconvene via teleconference next Tuesday, Oct. 12 at 5 p.m.