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Local tenants and landlords are still waiting for rent relief funds

More than $17 million in rent relief
Posted at 8:02 AM, Jun 22, 2021

People struggling to pay their rent due to the pandemic can apply for financial help.

But what happens if rent relief doesn’t arrive before the eviction moratorium expires at the end of this month?

One Los Osos man who applied for California's Rent Relief program says he waited months for a response from the state.

“Everyday you’re kinda living on the edge - kinda anxious, wondering what’s going to happen,” said Adam Schooley, a tenant in Los Osos.

Schooley’s job was eliminated last year due to the pandemic.

He’s looking for a new opportunity but meanwhile, he’s fallen behind on his monthly rent.

“Right now, I am currently over $5,000 behind on rent...that’s all due at the end of June.”

California's eviction moratorium is set to expire on June 30. It's a looming deadline for tenants struggling to pay.

Janna Nichols with the 5 Cities Homeless Coalition explains, a tenant must be pay at least part of their rent to maintain eviction protections. “A landlord will be able to evict, if a tenant has not paid up to 25% of the money owed.”

California's Rent Relief program is designed to bridge the gap of unpaid rent and utilities. “People are going to be able to receive up to 12 months of assistance if need be,” said Nichols.

Schooley says both he and his landlord submitted applications back in March, when the program first started.

It has taken Schooley months to receive an update on the status of his application. On Tuesday night, he was finally notified his application was approved.

It's unclear when he will actually receive the funds.

“All I am worried about is catching up. That’s where I am stuck. Unfortunately, that will matter at the end of June if my landlord decides to take any action”.

San Luis Obispo County Assistant Administrative Officer, Guy Savage, sees tenants are getting desperate for answers. “There’s no doubt that we are seeing delays in the allocation of funds...and one of our problems since the very beginning is our ability to get some sort of status,” said Savage. “Here at the County we, too, are concerned because even just the questions about what happens with someone who is in process if the eviction moratorium ends”.

Nichols says the state acknowledges the speed bumps in the program, and there are changes being made to expedite payments.

“My sense now is that it’s a timing and capacity issue at the state level. No one is being denied currently,” Nichols said.

For renters, like Schooley, facing a potential eviction notice, answers can’t come soon enough.

“Everything is so uncertain that you can’t look that far ahead. You're just kind of living in the moment with whatever money you have in your pocket,” said Schooley.

The latest numbers for the Rent Relief program in San Luis Obispo County show an improvement, but there is still a ways to go.

In May, relief applications in the county totaled 271. $2,245,948 in back rent was requested, while only $52,067 was actually paid out.

As of June 14th, the application total in the county was 355. The total rent requested was $2,885,549 and so far, $72,836 has been paid out to renters and landlords.

These totals do not include payment requests for utilities.