A local organization plans to help residential tenants in Burbank pay rent starting in the late summer or early fall, not long before the recently extended statewide eviction moratorium is scheduled to end.
Family Promise of the Verdugos, a nonprofit that offers services to low-income families experiencing homelessness or facing the loss of shelter, will offer up to $1,375 a month for upward of half a year to a minimum of 44 local households. Qualifying households must contribute 30% of their monthly income toward rent, with FPV paying the rest.
FPV also plans to pay security deposits of $1,500 to up to 40 households and already offers clients financial stability training and help finding employment. Enrollment could begin as soon as August, according to Albert Hernandez, the nonprofit’s CEO.
The Burbank City Council allocated just over $477,000 in state funds to the “rapid rehousing” program on June 22. A statewide renter eviction moratorium that had been in place since March 2020 was scheduled to expire on Wednesday, but Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday signed a bill extending the policy through September.
The moratorium applies only to tenants who sign a statement saying they have been financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic within 15 business days of receiving a “pay or quit” notice. For families whose annual income is both more than 130% of the county’s median household income and more than $100,000, the landlord can demand proof of the tenants’ coronavirus-related financial hardship.
Tenants must also pay at least 25% of rent due between Sept. 1, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2021 — such as by paying a quarter of their rent each month or a lump sum equal to a quarter of the total rent owed — to receive protection under the moratorium.
Hernandez welcomed the extension, believing it will allow more time for renters to get state and local aid to help them pay their past-due bills.
“It’s fantastic news that our clients don’t have to stress so much about July 1,” he said. “July 1 was the date everyone was nervous about. ‘Who’s going to be served with evictions? How much more lenient can landlords be?’”
SOME CONCERNS EXPRESSED
Tonja Stump, chair of the Burbank Landlord-Tenant Commission, a municipal group that provides information to renters and landlords, said that tenants with whom she has spoken support the eviction moratorium, but that some remain overwhelmed by the amount of money they must pay after it ends. Meanwhile, she added, many “mom and pop” landlords — particularly older residents who rely on rent payment as their primary income — have struggled to pay their mortgages and insurance fees.
“It’s actually a losing-losing situation,” said Stump. “Tenants are being able to stay in their places, but they’re getting so wrapped up with debt that they have to pay back that some of them are just packing up and leaving, and the landlords have to take a loss.”
Stump said some landlords have reported having tenants who spend money on new cars rather than paying rent. She worries that the property owners will eventually decide to leave Burbank as well, potentially allowing developers to purchase the land and build larger apartment complexes — which, as new construction, would be exempt from California’s rent control law.
Carol Derry, a local landlord whose family has owned 10 units across two apartment buildings since the 1940s, said she has been regularly approached by developers eager to buy property in the Rancho neighborhood. Most of her tenants — whom she said she charges below-market rates — have been paying rent regularly, though one hasn’t paid since January due to financial issues.
Derry said that while she knows tenants need the protection the moratorium provides, she’s concerned that landlords don’t seem to have a solution to handle tenants who aren’t paying rent. At the same time, she’s built close relationships with her tenants, and doesn’t have a mortgage on the building, so she wants to be helpful.
“In my opinion … if you have the opportunity to take care of these people, especially people that have been here for over 10 years and stuff, you should do that,” Derry said, “if you have the financial resources to kind of let this skate a little bit and not raise rent and not try to evict them.”
STATE PAYS PAST-DUE RENT
Some relief for both renters and landlords could be coming through an augmented state program. Newsom signed a bill Monday approving state funding to completely pay past-due rent and utility bills owed by low-income tenants since April 2020. Under previous policy, the state would pay up to 80% of past-due rent for eligible participants. Applicants’ household income must be at or below 80% of the county’s median income for their household size to qualify for the rent assistance program.
But the state has paid only a fraction of the $1.4 billion in rent relief it made available in March, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Carrie Prado, director of programs at FPV, said many potential applicants may simply not know how to apply for the relief program or have experience with similar processes. Both landlords and tenants, she added, need education about the benefits of the initiative.
“We really need people to understand, like, ‘Hey, we need you to take this money because we don’t want you to be homeless,’” Prado said. “On the other side, it does take some time, I think, for the state to process [applications]. So the fact that Newsom has given us three more months … is really going to help.”
Hernandez said FPV plans to hold local pop-up events with related information in the next month for both tenants and landlords.
FPV will also soon be disseminating information about its rapid rehousing program. A similar program run by the nonprofit that primarily operates in Glendale has helped 200 families since 2017, Hernandez said, adding that all of them were able to continue paying rent after the nonprofit’s assistance period ended.
He hopes that the new FPV program will do the same for families in Burbank.
“Forty-four households in the city of Burbank might not seem like a lot, but it is going to create long-term impact,” Hernandez said.
For more information about the eviction moratorium or the state rent relief program, visit housing.ca.gov.