Press Releases

Waters Calls on Newsom and Garcetti to Continue to Reduce Barriers to COVID-19 Relief

Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, sent a letter to Governor of California Galvin Newsom and Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti urging them to reduce barriers to assistance to ensure that critical COVID-19 relief reaches Californians who continue to struggle during the pandemic.

“As you know, even before the pandemic, homelessness was at crisis levels in California, with more than 161,000 of our neighbors forced to live on the streets, in cars, and other places not fit for human habitation. At the same time, the lack of affordable housing in the state has left over a million households paying too much of their income on rent. The pandemic has only exacerbated these crises…To ensure renters could remain in their homes and avoid eviction, I was able to secure $25 billion in emergency rental assistance in the December aid package and an additional $21.6 billion in the American Rescue Plan. Both California and the City of Los Angeles are now working to get these funds to families in need, but only a fraction of the money has been provided to landlords. While I appreciate efforts to improve the distribution of emergency rental assistance and ensure renters are receiving sufficient aid, I urge you to continue to reduce barriers to assistance so that families are not cut off from relief provided by Congress.”

See the full text of the letter below.

Dear Governor Newsom and Mayor Garcetti,

Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have made it my top priority to ensure vulnerable people are protected from both the health and economic effects of the coronavirus, including families struggling with housing costs and people experiencing homelessness. As you know, even before the pandemic, homelessness was at crisis levels in California, with more than 161,000 of our neighbors forced to live on the streets, in cars, and other places not fit for human habitation. At the same time, the lack of affordable housing in the state has left over a million households paying too much of their income on rent. The pandemic has only exacerbated these crises.

To ensure renters could remain in their homes and avoid eviction, I was able to secure $25 billion in emergency rental assistance in the December aid package and an additional $21.6 billion in the American Rescue Plan. Both California and the City of Los Angeles are now working to get these funds to families in need, but only a fraction of the money has been provided to landlords. While I appreciate efforts to improve the distribution of emergency rental assistance and ensure renters are receiving sufficient aid, I urge you to continue to reduce barriers to assistance so that families are not cut off from relief provided by Congress.

I was also able to secure in the American Rescue Plan $5 billion for emergency housing vouchers targeted to people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, domestic violence survivors, and victims of human trafficking, as well as $5 billion through the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) to enable state and local governments to finance supportive services, affordable housing, and the acquisition of non-congregate shelter, such as hotels, specifically for the hundreds of thousands of people currently experiencing homelessness. I was pleased to see that California and the City of Los Angeles received a large share of emergency housing vouchers and look forward to hearing how they will assist eligible individuals, particularly those with mental health conditions who have been languishing on city streets for years. I am also eager to learn how the State and the City plan to use its HOME allocation to build off of the success of Project Roomkey and Project Homekey to more safely and effectively house Californians experiencing homelessness.

I value our partnership in addressing the housing and homelessness crises in our State and City and appreciate the local resources that have been provided to bolster federal efforts. We both know that without robust federal and local investments, we will never solve these issues. That is why I have offered both the Housing is Infrastructure Act and the Ending Homelessness Act and am supportive of the California State Legislature’s proposed $1 billion in annual funding to help local communities address homelessness. I look forward to continuing to work with you now as our country continues to grapple with the ongoing public health crisis and toward an equitable long-term recovery.


Sincerely,
MAXINE WATERS
Chairwoman


cc: The Honorable Patrick McHenry, Ranking Member
Committee on Financial Services



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