The homeless population has steadily grown in CA over the years, and has been exasperated by the pandemic. Homeowners and landlords are also facing problems, whether it’s keeping tenants in their building or being able to collect rent because tenants have lost their jobs and are unable to make payments.

March 31 was the deadline to qualify for the rent relief program for LA residents, but renters who did not meet the deadline do not have to worry as evictions can not happen until April 30, 2023, due to the eviction protection program. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) mortgage relief program is still accepting applications. Visit https://tinyurl.com/3nskr9rk. 

During a zoom conference call with a veteran housing counseling specialist, OW learned the many different options they are providing to people in need. 

“As of January, there are 721,000 families who owe more than three billion dollars in back rent,” said Eric Johnson, an information officer for the California housing finance agency. “The majority of the people who are rent burdens in California do not speak English, this means that the people who need the most help can’t get it because they don’t understand English. 

“California is now offering a national mortgage council program,” Johnson added. “This will allow people to get free counseling at HUD-approved agencies. People needing help can visit https://tinyurl.com/uu9tytub to see what agencies are HUD-approved and what languages are offered there. March 31st will be the last day to apply for emergency rental relief.” 

The second speaker on the zoom call was Maeve Elise Brown, executive director of Housing and Economic Right Advocates (HERA).  

“We are a nonprofit law office at HERA, and we are in Northern California,” Brown said. “We travel all over California counseling the people who are homeless, renters, and homeowners. We also advocate on behalf of people to gain access to homeownership, help keep their rental access, or even hang on to the family home.

“Many problems our clients face, especially renters, are a high increase in rent, illegal rent increases, problems with landlords refusing to fix and make repairs in homes, and resentful landlords not providing reasonable accommodations to their disabled renters.” she added. 

“Disability discrimination is at an all-time high right now for us. It’s the highest number of complaints that our state department has to deal with, and many people don’t know that you have the right to reasonable accommodation. It is a lovely broad term that means owners have to accommodate people so they can enjoy their living space like everyone else,” said Brown. 

For more information about the renter’s relief or mortgage relief program, visit the National Mortgage Settlement | California Housing Finance Agency, or call (800) 569-4287.

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