As legislative protections run out for renters, California leaders are scrambling to prevent a wave of evictions.
For months, California renters could draw from a combination of state and federal protections in order to keep a roof over their heads. But with the $600 unemployment boost now expired, and state eviction courts set to resume Sept. 2, many renters will be vulnerable to eviction. If legislators cannot strike a deal, California’s significant homeless population— over 150,000 people— will likely grow significantly.
Negotiations are currently ongoing in the legislature. Assembly Bill 1436 is supported by tenant and labor groups, and would permanently prohibit landlords from evicting tenants who missed a rent payment because of COVID-19. The bill would also attempt to recompense landlords for missed rent payments by pushing lenders to provide mortgage forbearance options. However, Newsom and other legislators are negotiating a different deal that would allow evictions to begin as soon as Wednesday, but would give tenants the ability to stop the proceedings if they can certify that they could not pay due to a COVID-19 hardship. From Sept. 1 through Jan. 31, tenants would pay 25% of their rent to avoid eviction, and unpaid rent would be treated as consumer debt, and not be grounds for eviction.
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Lupe Arreola, executive director of Tenants Together, a statewide coalition of local tenant organizations dedicated to defending and advancing the rights of California tenants; she tweets @m_lupearreola