Release: Martinez, O'Farrell, Rodriguez Urge Congress to Include Assistance for Renters and Property Owners in Next Relief Bill

City Hall

LOS ANGELES - Fighting for even further protections for Angelenos during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, Council President Nury Martinez and Councilmembers Mitch O’Farrell and Monica Rodriguez are calling on Congress to include benefits for tenants, homeowners and landlords in the next federal relief package. 

Martinez, O’Farrell, and Rodriguez on Tuesday introduced a resolution at the Los Angeles City Council meeting urging federal action to provide billions of dollars in relief, as well as extend forgiveness assistance to renters, property owners, and mortgage holders impacted by COVID-19. 

Congress recently passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provides $2.2 trillion in relief for businesses and individuals through one-time payments, as well as additional unemployment benefits, with another stimulus package in the works. One specifically aimed on housing needs is desperately needed throughout the United States, including in the City of Los Angeles, the 2nd largest city in the nation. 

“Beyond doing all we can to prevent people from dying of COVID-19, we need all branches of government, local, state and federal, working together to stem the economic devastation that will come if we do not protect our nation’s housing,” said Council President Martinez. “Renters, landlords and homeowners in the City of Los Angeles will need direct housing assistance from the federal government. If not, we are in for an economic and housing pandemic that will soon follow.”

“In order to give the expansive relief that renters and mortgage holders need, additional action must be taken at the federal level in the form of forgiveness or cash assistance to avoid the next wave of homelessness,” said Councilmember O’Farrell, who recently wrote Governor Newsom regarding statewide rent and mortgage forgiveness paired together.  “Real relief to keep people housed, both during the pandemic and after, requires collaboration at all levels of government. Once this pandemic is over, the recovery will be hard enough without people having to worry about how they’ll make ends meet, stay housed, and meet their financial obligations.”

"Housing insecurity and poverty was a pandemic long before COVID-19, and triaging during this crisis has been challenging without adequate Federal support," said Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez. "Just a decade ago, we watched Washington bail out Wall Street and big banks. Congress must get it right this time and bail out tenants, homeowners, landlords, and small business owners."

In response to the spread of COVID-19, on March 4th, Governor Newsom and Mayor Garcetti declared a state of emergency, issuing sweeping protections across the state including “Safer-At-Home” orders while activating a response strategy focused on people and neighborhoods. 

Following the emergency declarations, the City Council and the Mayor took action to provide COVID-19 related eviction protections to renters.  These protections include: barring landlords from evicting residential and commercial tenants who are unable to pay rent; barring no-fault evictions during the Local Emergency Period; halting Ellis Act evictions for 60 days after the emergency order is lifted; freezing rents on the City’s RSO (rent-controlled) units; and, waiving late fees and allowing tenants to pay back their rent for up to 12 months after the emergency order is lifted. 

The City’s emergency ordinance pertains to all Angelenos, regardless of immigration status. 

For homeowners, Governor Newsom recently secured support from Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo and nearly 200 state-chartered banks, credit unions, and servicers to provide a 90-day suspension on mortgage payments for California property owners, but federal action is needed to provide clear and consistent protections during the pandemic.

In the City and County of Los Angeles, half of all individuals are renters, as well as rent burdened, spending over 50% or more of their monthly income on housing. 

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