The federally funded program, called the Irvine Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), differs from Orange County’s $66 million rental assistance program, which began on Feb. 1.
Irvine received direct allocations of $16.8 million from the state and federal governments and will use the funds to enact its own plan, a city spokesperson said on Feb. 16.
“This is separate from the funding the county received, and they are two separate programs,” Kristina Perrigoue told The Epoch Times. “The direct funding from the Department of the Treasury was based upon a population threshold of over 200,000, which Irvine qualifies for.”
Anaheim and Santa Ana also received funding to create their own rental assistance programs.
To help facilitate the program, Irvine has partnered with Orange County United Way; the application period will be announced soon.
“Landlords can apply on behalf of the tenants but only receive 80 percent of back rent/arrears and must forgive the 20 percent balance,” Perrigoue said. “If a landlord does not want to participate in the program, an Irvine renter could apply and receive 25 percent of back-rent. Our program is only for eligible residential renters in the City of Irvine.”
The rental assistance will provide coverage from April 2020 through March of this year.
Applicants can also apply for assistance with future rent payments, where they could receive up to 25 percent of future rent for up to a three-month period, the city’s website says.
After the application period is finished, applicants will be chosen by a lottery system.
Households with back rent will be prioritized over those needing future rent, the city said. Priority will also be given to houses that have a 50 percent or below area median income (AMI), although those with up to an 80 percent AMI are allowed to apply.
Perrigoue said that given the pace other cities were taking with rental assistance, she didn’t feel that Irvine was behind on the program.
“We took the time to develop program guidelines to best serve the needs of Irvine residents,” she said. “The county has the capacity in place to administer a program like this on a moment’s notice. … The State, Anaheim and Santa Ana have not begun their programs yet. The programs must be in place by March 15.”
To qualify for the program, applicants must be a residential renter in Irvine, have a valid and current lease, demonstrate financial hardship due to COVID-19, and not have received other rental assistance from any governmental agency.
Irvine’s city council is set to receive updates on the program at their Feb. 23 council meeting.