Tenants’ rights advocates and the California Department of Housing and Community Development reached a settlement this week to address processing delays and denials in rent relief applications for eligible tenants, meaning more renters could soon get financial aid.
During the pandemic, California tasked the department with administering more than $5 billion in state and federal funds to assist vulnerable tenants with rent relief through California’s COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The agency closed the application portal at the end of March 2022.
A surge in denials beginning after the closure propelled advocates to sue, alleging that eligible renters were rejected and left without financial aid. By July, around 30% of applicants had been denied assistance from the program, even though 93% were likely eligible for debt relief, according to the National Equity Atlas, an organization that reports on racial and economic equity.