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“This Program Was Truly a Blessing”: Facts from California’s Nation-Leading $4 Billion State Rent Relief Program

SACRAMENTO – California has delivered more direct assistance than any other state in rent relief and eviction protection during the pandemic. Over the past 15 months, California’s nation-leading rent relief program delivered approximately $4 billion in financial assistance to over 340,000 renter households, preventing homelessness and providing stability to over 700,000 Californians. This year’s budget provides an additional $1.95 billion in emergency rental assistance for eligible applicants who applied through March 31, 2022.

“California ran the largest and most successful eviction protection and rent relief program in the country,” said Governor Newsom. “340,000 families weren’t evicted because of this and the overwhelming majority of assistance went to very low-income households. Homelessness prevented, public health protected, families stabilized.”

California’s program is the largest unified emergency rental assistance program in the nation, covering approximately 64% of the state’s population, with local emergency rental assistance programs covering the rest. To date, the state program has expended the most of any single program in the nation, deploying assistance at twice the rate of the next nearest program in the nation. All applications received by March 31, where the application had the necessary information to establish eligibility, have been paid.

“By working in partnership with a local network of 144 culturally competent community-based organizations engaging landlords, legal aid groups, local cities and counties and our federal partner at US Treasury, we collectively helped over one million people in California stay safely and stably   housed,” said Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency Secretary Lourdes Castro Ramirez. “The pandemic propelled us to address housing instability as an emergency, and the California COVID-19 Rent Relief program was a crucial lifeline with the financial resources to move with speed and compassion. We are proud of partnerships built in administering the nation’s largest and most successful emergency rental assistance program.”

“This program was truly a blessing. Since the pandemic happened, I didn’t have enough money for a lot of things. The program helped keep food in my refrigerator, gas in my car.” – Alisha, a tenant in Los Angeles County.

The figures below are reflective of the top local jurisdictions in the state program in terms of amount of assistance and households served.

“The California COVID-19 Rent Relief program is the most successful in the nation, with more than 340,000 households receiving assistance payments,” said Department of Housing and Community Development Director Gustavo Velasquez. “Of all payments made, 86 percent of supported households are at 50 percent or below area median area income, keeping our most vulnerable tenants protected. We have processed all applications received and will pay every eligible applicant.”

“This program has been extremely helpful during these tough times. I’ve had personal difficulties throughout, and I’m blessed to have received this assistance. It has helped me to keep from being put in a homeless shelter.” – Adam a tenant in Los Angeles County.

Individual support for applicants needing assistance with outstanding tasks, appeals, or other help with their application is still available. Applicants are encouraged to call 833-687-0967 to schedule an appointment in their preferred language. All eligible applicants who submitted complete applications by March 31, 2022 will receive assistance, covering a total of up to 18 months for the period beginning April 1, 2020 and ending March 31, 2022.

In addition, legal aid resources are available to support tenants navigating available protections. Low-or no-cost legal help is available through www.lawhelpca.org and/or the Tenant Resources page on HousingIsKey.com.

The state program public dashboard will be refreshed on July 1, 2022, to reflect the figures from this week’s pay file that are referenced above. In addition to the latest figures on expenditures and households served, the public dashboard also includes information regarding assistance by demographics, by jurisdiction, among others programmatic data points.

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