By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Tens of thousands of Angelenos struggling to cover their unpaid rent because of the coronavirus pandemic can apply for rental assistance beginning Tuesday.

The application window for the new $259 million Emergency Renters Relief Program opened Tuesday for city of L.A. residents and runs through April 30 at midnight.

The money, made up of federal funds, will include $235 million in direct rental assistance and another $3 million for eviction defense.

The money is expected to help about 64,000 families.

“It’s a true blessing because, it’s a light at the end of the tunnel for us, we have nowhere to go,” said Claudia Chacon at a news conference Tuesday in Central L.A.

Chacon and her husband have been unable to pay rent for the past six months after he lost his restaurant job. They have three children.

The program is open to all low-income renters in the city of L.A., regardless of their immigration status.

To be eligible, households must have at least one adult who has lost a job or experienced financial hardship as a result of the pandemic. Their household income must also be below 50% of area median income, which for a family of four is $56,300.

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There are two ways that people can apply. Landlords and tenants can apply together, in which case landlords will receive 80% of a tenant’s unpaid rent that was accrued between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021. However, to receive this amount, landlords must waive the remaining 20% of unpaid rent.

If landlords decline to apply for the program, then tenants can apply on their own and payments will be limited to 25% of unpaid rent that was accrued over the last year, along with 25% of future rent for this coming April to June.

The Los Angeles Housing + Community Investment Department is overseeing the distribution.

The funding is part of a $2.6 billion statewide rent relief program that provides money from December’s $900 billion Congressional stimulus package. It is designed to cover back unpaid rent for the period between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021.