The California Rental Housing Association is urging cities and counties across the state to devote millions of dollars in federal grants to rental assistance.

In a news release sent out on Tuesday, the association said grants could serve as an immediate source of rent for low and moderate income renters who are undergoing immense financial pressure during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“The new federal funding is an opportunity to provide renter relief during this crisis and ease the financial strain of both renters and rental property owners who rely on rents to pay their operating and maintenance costs,” Jack Schwartz, Legislative Chair for the association said in the release. “We encourage local cities and counties to quickly act on using these funds as rental assistance because financial support is immediately needed for millions of Californians. Helping renters pay their rent now will help keep Californians sheltered in place and avoid future possible homelessness.”

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Bakersfield is slated to receive $9.8 million in grants while Kern County is slated to receive $11.7 million in grants. The grants can be used for a variety of purposes related to housing, along with coronavirus relief.

The California Rental Housing Association, which is composed of more than 20,000 rental housing owners, has also proposed a statewide renter assistance program, which could provide up to three months of rental assistance to renters experiencing financial loss due to COVID-19, the release said.

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