California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) says the state will make landlords whole whose tenants have accumulated past-due rent amid the pandemic - despite the fact that the state has only distributed just $32 million of the $490 million in requests for rental assistance through May 31 in what appears to be typical bureaucratic malarkey.
The state is also weighing whether to extend the eviction moratorium for unpaid rent beyond June 30, a pandemic-related order which was supposed to be temporary, according to the Associated Press. Federal eviction protections are set to expire on the same date, however California's protections expanded the number of tenants covered by the moratorium.
Newsom and legislative leaders are meeting privately to decide what to do, part of the negotiations over the state’s roughly $260 billion operating budget. An extension of the eviction ban seems likely to give California more time to spend all the money to cover unpaid rent. But landlords and tenants’ rights groups are arguing over how long that extension should last. -AP
"The expectation for people to be up and at ’em and ready to pay rent on July 1 is wholeheartedly unfair," said Kelli Lloyd, a 43-year-old single mother who hasn't worked consistently since the pandemic began in March 2020.
Lloyd owes $30,000 in back rent for her $1,924 per month two-bedroom, two-bathroom rent-controlled apartment in the Crenshaw district of south Los Angeles. She says she had to forego work for most of last year to take care of her two children due to closed daycare centers and schools halting in-person learning.
Lloyd, a member of the advocacy group Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, says she recently lost a job at a real estate brokerage and has yet to find another one.
"Simply because the state has opened back up doesn’t mean people have access to their jobs," she said.
Meanwhile, in the wine country area of Sonoma County, property manager Keith Becker says 14 tenants are more than $100,000 behind in rent payments. It’s put financial pressure on the owners, who Becker says have “resigned themselves to it.”
But they have grown weary of the seemingly endless protections, which he noted were aimed at addressing a public health emergency and not meant to be permanent.
“We should do our best to get back to the starting point where we were in December of 2019. Anything other than that is taking advantage of a crisis,” he said.
California has $5.2 billion to pay off people’s rent, money from multiple aid packages approved by Congress. That appears to be more than enough to cover all of the unpaid rent in the state, according to Jason Elliott, senior counselor to Newsom on housing and homelessness. -AP
According to the report, California has been slow to distribute federal funds allocated to pay off rents, and is unlikely to spend it all by June 30. According to a report by the CA Department of Housing and Community Development, $490 million in rental assistance requests have been made through May 31, and just $32 million has been paid - which doesn't include 12 cities and 10 counties running their own rental assistance programs.
"It’s challenging to set up a new, big program overnight," said Democratic assemblyman David Chiu (SF), chair of the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee. "It has been challenging to educate millions of struggling tenants and landlords on what the law is."
Landlords, meanwhile, have been pushing the state to end the eviction moratorium - pointing to the state's rapid economic recovery from the pandemic which has seen 495,000 new jobs added since February. April alone accounted for 38% of all new jobs in the country, while Newsom lifted all restrictions on businesses amid the state's "grand reopening."