More than $7 billion is now available for California residents behind on their rent and utility payments after state officials approved the funding in recent days, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday.
The state will use $5.2 billion of the funding to pay 100 percent of outstanding rent payments that residents still owe because of lost income during the pandemic.
The remaining $2 billion will support residents who have unpaid water and utility bills. The state will also subsidize rent and utility payments for some low-income residents over the next two months.
"COVID is not taking the summer off," Newsom said during a briefing Wednesday in Southern California. "We still have a lot of work to do, so the impacts are still being felt and they're very real."
Californians have already filed more than 100,000 applications requesting more than $1 billion in rental assistance, according to state officials.
The state has also partnered with 110 local organizations to conduct outreach and ensure that all of the rent and utility relief funding is dispersed to landlords, property managers and utility providers.
Newsom proposed spending billions to fully pay off debt owed by the state's renters as part of the revised state budget proposal he released in May.
Although the state and local governments have made rent relief funds available throughout much of the pandemic, the new relief funding was included in a spending package Newsom signed on Monday that also includes stimulus checks for most state residents and small business relief grants.
Newsom said the rent relief program will be especially critical for unemployed residents in the coming months, as state officials are unlikely to extend California's moratorium on pandemic-related evictions past its current Sept. 30 deadline.
"We're encouraging others that may not be aware of (the program) or may need a little bit of a push to take advantage of this program," he said.
Both landlords and renters can apply directly to the state's rent relief program and applicants will be considered regardless of immigration status.
Relief funding will be paid directly to the person or organization to whom the debt is owed. The rent and utility relief application can be found at housing.ca.gov.