The City of Santa Monica announced it would open up applications for rent-burdened residents to apply for relief beginning this Monday, Aug. 29, at 8 a.m.

The program is designed for residents in rent controlled units who are unable to afford this year’s Rent Control General Adjustment, which is set to increase rents for all rent controlled tenants 6% (up to $140 per month) beginning Sept. 1 — the highest hike in more than 30 years.

The 11th hour reprieve was “intended to keep families housed, shield tenants from eviction, and help both property owners and tenants manage this year’s unusually high General Adjustment increase,” according to information provided by the City of Santa Monica in a press release shared late on Tuesday afternoon.

The City of Santa Monica set aside three quarters of a million dollars for the program, with assistance prioritized for households most in need — “With priority given to very-low- and extremely-low-income households” who have received notice their rent will be going up in accordance with the 2022 Rent Control General Adjustment and who pay 50% or more of their income on rent.

Tenants in need of financial assistance should apply as soon as possible: the program will be open for about three weeks only, from Aug. 29 at 8 a.m. to Sept. 19 at 6 p.m. 

The Santa Monica Rent Control Board passed a 6% rent increase back in June, one of the highest in the agency’s history. Rent Control Board members at the time said their hands were tied; rent control increases are tied to inflation data and cannot be overridden by the board.

The announcement of the 2022 Rent Control General Adjustment sparked a political firestorm that eventually led to a ballot measure set to go before voters in November that would set a new annual cap for rent increases in rent controlled units to 3% or $70 per month.

The relief program is designed to bridge the gap between previous rents and the newly adjusted rates, meaning the City will cover up to $140 per month for those who qualify. 

To qualify, tenants must prove they reside in a rent-controlled apartment in Santa Monica; that they received notification of a 2022 General Adjustment increase; that they pay more than 50% of their household income toward rent; and that they are not a rental housing voucher recipient (who already receives government assistance with their rent). 

“We know the 6% increase is going to burden residents in rent-controlled apartments, and the City of Santa Monica is stepping in to provide support,” City Manager David White said in a statement provided by the City. “We are committed to quickly deploying available resources and have mobilized a team to assist our community due to the unforeseen impacts of inflation.”

Residents who believe they qualify and are able to access the internet can visit to apply; for those who do not have online access, the City will also provide applications at Virginia Avenue Park Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., as well as hosting a community clinic there on Sept. 10.

The community clinic is set to run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 10, with in-person support available in English and Spanish and automated translation services for other languages. Appointments are required and can be made by calling (310) 458-2201, ext. 5771.