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Ana Jara for City CouncilTed Winterer for City CouncilJen Smith for School BoardCity to Help Up to 200 More Tenants Pay Rent

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By Jorge Casuso

October 29, 2020 -- The City Council on Tuesday amended its contract with St. Joseph Center by more than $1 million to help between 150 and 200 additional tenants pay rent during the coronavirus emergency.

City Employees' Council Endorsements

The approved $1,044,715 modification brings the total contract with the local non-profit to more than $3.1 million funded almost entirely by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Phil Brock for Council

An initial grant of $1,856,799 from CARES in July helped approximately 420 tenants economically impacted by the pandemic pay rent under the City's COVID Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).

The contract with St. Joseph includes $220,000 in City funding to administer the program.

Oscar de la Torre for City Council

"Recovery from the economic shutdown continues to be slow, with persistently high unemployment and households struggling to pay for basic expenses such as rent," staff wrote in its report to the Council.

More than 1,000 tenants have applied since the City began taking applications July 7, staff said. Those who qualify are entered into a lottery for final selection.

Applicants must qualify as a low-income household and provide "proof of loss of income or increase in expenses related to COVID-19" that makes them unable to pay rent.

To qualify, the annual gross income ranges from no more than $63,100 for a one-person household to $118,950 for a household of eight.

The payments -- which can be as high as $5,000 for three months -- are made by St. Joseph Center directly to the tenants' landlords or property management companies, housing officials said.

The program does not cover back rent deferred by the local eviction moratorium, officials said. Seniors who receive rental vouchers under the City's Preserving Our Diversity Program (POD) are not eligible.

Last month, nine in ten U.S. renters said they paid their August rent in full and were expected to do the same in September, according to a nationwide survey by Apartment List ("Nine in Ten Renters Expected to Pay Full Rent by End of Month, Nationwide Survey Finds," September 15, 2020).

One-third, however, did not pay their rent the first week of the month but made up what they owed with late payments by the end of the month.

Santa Monica renters are protected by both state and local measures that bar landlords from evicting residential tenants who can show they cannot not pay rent due to the coronavirus emergency.

Under the state law that went into effect September 1, California renters are protected from eviction through January 31, as long as they pay at least 25 percent of their rent.

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