California plans to extend eviction protections after June – Daily News


By Adam Beam | The Associated Press

Gov. Gavin Newsom said California will pay off all past due rents accumulated in the country’s most populous state due to the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, a pledge to make landlords free while giving tenants a clean slate .

It remains to be seen whether California will continue to ban evictions for unpaid rent beyond June 30, a pandemic-related order that was supposed to be temporary but proves difficult to overturn.

Federal protections against evictions are also set to expire on June 30. California had adopted its own protections that applied to more people.

Newsom and legislative leaders are meeting privately to decide what to do, as part of negotiations over the state’s roughly $ 260 billion operating budget. An extension of the eviction ban looks likely to give California more time to spend all the money to cover unpaid rents. But landlords and tenant rights groups are arguing over the length of the extension.

“The expectation that people are ready to pay rent on July 1 is completely unfair,” said Kelli Lloyd, a 43-year-old single mother who says she has not worked regularly since the start of the job. pandemic in March. 2020.

Lloyd – a member of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment advocacy group – is supposed to pay $ 1,924 a month for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom, rent-controlled apartment in the Crenshaw neighborhood of south Los Angeles. But she says she’s $ 30,000 behind after not working for most of last year to care for her two children as daycares have closed and schools have cut off in-person learning. .

This debt will likely be covered by the government. But Lloyd said she recently lost a job at a real estate brokerage firm and has yet to find another. She fears being deported if the protections expire.

“Just because the state has reopened doesn’t mean people have access to their jobs,” she said.

Meanwhile, in Sonoma County wine country, property manager Keith Becker says 14 tenants are over $ 100,000 in arrears on rent payments. This puts financial pressure on the owners, who Becker says have “resigned” to it.

But they grew weary of the seemingly endless protections, which he said were meant to deal with a public health emergency, not to be permanent.

“We should do our best to get back to where we were in December 2019. Anything other than that is taking advantage of a crisis,” he said.

California has $ 5.2 billion to pay people’s rent, money from several aid programs approved by Congress. That appears to be more than enough to cover all of the unpaid rent in the state, according to Jason Elliott, Newsom’s senior housing and homelessness advisor.

But the state has been slow to distribute that money, and it is unlikely to be able to spend it all by June 30. A report by the California Department of Housing and Community Development showed that of the $ 490 million in rental assistance requests through May 31, only $ 32 million has been paid. This does not include the 12 cities and 10 counties that run their own rental assistance programs.

“It’s hard to put in place a big new agenda overnight,” said Assembly Member David Chiu, Democrat of San Francisco and chair of the Assembly’s Housing and Community Development Committee. “It has been difficult to educate millions of troubled tenants and landlords on what the law is.”

Homeowners cite the state’s rapid economic recovery as a reason not to extend the moratorium on evictions much longer. California has created 495,000 new jobs since February. In April alone, California accounted for 38% of all new jobs in the United States. This week, Newsom lifted all restrictions on businesses, announcing the state’s grand reopening.

“We’re getting back to normal,” Carlton said. “It’s time to get back to work. It’s time to pay the rent.

While employment among middle and high-wage jobs has surpassed pre-pandemic levels, employment rates for people earning less than $ 27,000 per year have fallen by more than 38% since January 2020, according to Opportunity Insights, an economic tracking tool based at Harvard University.

“The stock market may be fine, we may be technically reopened, but the people in low-paying jobs – who are disproportionately people of color – are not back yet,” said Madeline Howard, senior counsel at Western. Center on Law and Poverty.

Some housing advocates are calling on the state to maintain the eviction ban until the unemployment rate among low-wage workers has fallen to pre-pandemic levels. It’s similar to how state officials would impose restrictions on businesses in counties with higher COVID-19 infection rates while those with lower infection rates may reopen faster. .

Lawyers say they are encouraged when Newsom told Univision earlier this month that he “definitely” wants to extend protections against evictions beyond June 30.

“We are cautiously optimistic,” said Francisco Duenas, executive director of Housing Now California. “We definitely need these protections as part of our recovery. “

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