Fearing the pandemic would exacerbate what is already the state’s most pressing problem, California has responded aggressively, passing one of the country’s toughest deportation moratoria and relocating some 35,000 Homeless Californians in hotels, a pattern that has proliferated across the country. The governor has proposed spending $ 12 billion on homeless people, including $ 7 billion to buy motels and apartments to convert them into shelters and $ 1.75 billion to build affordable housing.
While government efforts have been critical in keeping tenants housed during the pandemic, rental programs in California and elsewhere have been plagued by problems and slow to get the cash out. Studies show that about a third of renters have at some point used federal stimulus or unemployment money to pay their rent since last year, but a much smaller number, as low as 2%, have been able to access a rental program. As a result, a majority of tenants still had to borrow or dip into their savings to cover their bills during the pandemic, leaving them less able to deal with future emergencies as the economy recovers.
State lawmakers were working on a bill to extend the moratorium on evictions beyond its June 30 expiration date on Monday, according to several Legislative officials who requested anonymity for discuss ongoing negotiations. A vote could take place as early as this week. Lawmakers should extend the moratorium on evictions that was due to expire on June 30 and cover 100% of the rent for low-income tenants, up from 80% of their rent bills under current programs, officials said.
“California has more than $ 5 billion in federal funds to help pay rent for low-income people,” said Jason Elliott, senior advisor to Mr. Newsom. “Our challenge is to get this out as quickly as possible while guarding against fraud and making sure we prioritize those who have the most difficulty. “
Tom Bannon, the head of the California Apartment Association, a group that represents property owners in the state, said he was open to a short-term extension of the eviction moratorium, but called for faster disbursement.
“California needs to speed up the distribution of its federal rent assistance dollars,” he said.
Earlier this year, the U.S. government allocated $ 23.7 billion in emergency rent assistance to the 50 states and Washington, DC, based on their share of the nation’s population. California received the largest share – $ 2.6 billion – that the state decided to spend on rent coverage for low-income renters.
For comparison, Texas, with the second largest share of the population, received $ 1.9 billion.
If California extends eviction protections after June, it would join only a handful of other states in doing so. The Hawaii and New York moratoriums will end in August, while New Jersey, Vermont and Washington, DC plan to end theirs after each jurisdiction is lifted from the state of emergency, according to the Eviction. Princeton University Lab.