Thursday, December 1 2022


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California tenants will be protected from evictions for another three months, and those with low incomes will have all of their unpaid rents paid by the state, under a bill signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday in response to the pandemic of COVID-19.

The governor acted just hours after both houses of the legislature approved the bill extending eviction protections until September 30. Lawmakers cited the urgency resulting from the expiration of previous protections that had been set for Wednesday.

California to dramatically increase cash assistance to low-income tenants and small landlords under the state’s $ 5.2 billion rent relief program, making it the rental protection program and the largest and most comprehensive COVID rent relief of any state across the country, ”Newsom’s office said.

The action doubles funding for the rent relief program, allowing payment of 100% of unpaid rents from low-income tenants through April 2020 and until eviction protections expire, as long as where the money is available.

Landlords and tenants can immediately apply for extended rent relief.

In addition to prohibiting the eviction of tenants who pay at least 25% of their rent for an additional three months, the new measure prevents landlords from obtaining an eviction court order before giving tenants the opportunity to apply for an eviction. rent relief until March 2022.

Some 758,000 California households owe rent; the average amount they charge is $ 4,700, according to a study by PolicyLink and the USC Equity Research Institute.

Newsom negotiated the proposal with legislative leaders and signed the bill along with a main budget bill that was approved by the Legislature on June 14.

The eviction bill, AB 832, passed by a 34-0 bipartisan vote in the state Senate, although some Republicans complained that the state mismanaged the distribution of relief funds rents and that the extension unduly harmed landlords.

Senator Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) voted for the bill after unsuccessfully proposing that eviction protections be extended only to those who could document the financial hardships of the pandemic by showing that they have applied for unemployment benefits.

“Everyone has to pay their rent,” Bates said. “Rental property owners have borne the brunt of the actions of this legislature and the governor long enough.”

The three-month extension met with opposition from some homeowner groups, including the California Rental Housing Assn.

“We have been in serious financial difficulty for over 18 months now, and AB 832 will not help the tens of thousands of small rental service providers who are financially struggling and struggling to continue to provide affordable and safe housing to their residents. », Declared Christine LaMarca, president of the association.

On Monday, the state said it had paid just $ 73 million of the $ 1.4 billion it made available in March, while claims were submitted for a total of $ 722 million. of dollars. Counties and cities, which received $ 1.2 billion to distribute, are also struggling.

Democratic lawmakers have said they have been assured by the Newsom administration that it is improving the distribution process.

Tenant advocates had complained that a 32-page rent relief application made it difficult for many to apply, but officials said the form has been simplified and tenants can now self-certify that they were financially burdened by the pandemic.

The bill’s approval was greeted Monday by tenant advocates, including Patricia Mendoza, tenant and leader of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.

“Now I no longer have this huge financial burden on my back and the stability of my family does not depend on my landlord’s participation in the rent relief program,” said Mendoza, an Imperial Beach resident.

Assembly Member David Chiu (D-San Francisco) said his bill recognizes that the state has received $ 27 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds, some of which will fund the grand relief program of California rents.

“With the funds available, ending eviction protections this week would be fumbling along the one-meter line,” Chiu told colleagues. “It would be tragic to kick families onto the streets when we have the option of keeping them in their homes with rent relief funding.”

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