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City Extends Rent Relief Program After Fewer Than 500 Households Qualify

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By Jorge Casuso

December 15, 2022 -- The City has extended a rent relief program for struggling rent control tenants after fewer than 500 applications were approved, leaving most of the $750,000 in funding unused.

Of the 563 households that applied for the “Rent Control Adjustment Relief” (RCAR) program, 381 have received at total of $241,026 to help pay their annual rent increase, according to City officials.

"Approximately 100 additional households will be provided financial assistance this month," said Tati Simonian, a spokesperson for the City.

The program was launched to help "rent-burdened" households who pay more than half of their income for rent, which City and Rent Control officials contend number more than 6,000.

On Monday, the City reopened the application process until January 11 for eligible households "on a limited basis," officials said.

To qualify for the extension, tenants must show they either received a rent increase notice after the original September 19 application deadline, or did not apply due to extenuating circumstances, such as illness.

The RCAR program provides relief equivalent to the maximum allowed 3 percent rent increase over a 12-month period paid directly to the property owner/manager in a single lump sum, according to the City's website.

To reach every potential applicant, Rent Control officials last Friday mailed notices to all of Santa Monica's approximately 27,500 rent-controlled households.

During the initial application period, the City launched an intensive campaign that included mailing every rent controlled tenant and advertising the program in local media outlets.

The City also held a Community Clinic, made applications available in English, Spanish, Amharic and Farsi -- both in print and online -- and made sure those with limited access to a computer could apply in person.

The low number of applicants indicates City and Rent Board officials may be vastly overestimating the number of rent-burdened households in the city ("City Could Be Vastly Overestimating 'Rent-Burdened' Households," November 1, 2022).

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