Grant Will Provide Rent Assistance, Helping Landlords

The city will contract with the nonprofit Housing Rights Center to administer a $75,528 Community Development Block Grant that is designed to provide rent assistance to qualified tenants during the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision was made on a 5-0 City Council vote last week. Housing Rights Center, or HRC, will be paid up to 15% of the grant to run the program, which will provide up to $1,000 to applicants in a one-time payment to help bridge gaps in rent. The agency has other experience running similar programs, including in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County’s Fifth Supervisorial District.

“They’re willing to partner with us and work with us,” explained Marisol Romero, a city management analyst, at last week’s council meeting. “They have a lot of experience with this type of program.”
Eligible applicants for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, or ERAP, will be placed in a lottery and randomly selected for the rent relief. Applicants’ pre-pandemic household income can have been no more than 80% of the area median income ($63,100 for a single person or up to $90,100 for a family of four).
“Targeting households whose income was at or below 80% of AMI pre-COVID-19 ensures that households that were already struggling before the pandemic are prioritized for the assistance,” Romero wrote in her staff report. “Additionally, including those that experienced a sudden loss of income is important for helping households that are facing economic instability.”
Renters have struggled throughout the pandemic, especially in its early days when state and county restrictions closed down most retailers and significantly limited restaurant operations. A variety of moratoriums on evictions have been established throughout the year to protect those renters, but those relief efforts have caused tension among landlords who are left without their incomes as a result of defaulted rent payments.
“Approval of ERAP helps tenants and at the same time reduces the ripple effect of financial losses on landlords, particularly ‘mom and pop’ landlords who rely on rents as a primary or sole income source,” Romero wrote.
Factoring in the administrative fee to HRC, the grant will provide $62,498 to be distributed to 62 South Pasadena households. Payments will be made directly to landlords.
The council at first considered options for this grant in July, initially settling on a hybrid of rental assistance and bolstering the city’s ongoing senior meal service. However, the Los Angeles County Development Authority, which awards the grant, does not allow the money to be used to backfill already-existing city operations, according to the staff report.