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California to Pay 100 Percent of Low-Income Tenants Back Rent Going Back to April 2020

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Staff

Those who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to the point where they have not been able to keep up with their rent and have worried about what will happen when the ban on evictions in no longer in force, are in luck.

Governor Gavin Newsom has announced that anybody that’s been impacted by this pandemic and have not been able to pay their rent, can have 100 percent of their rent paid by the state of California going back to April of 2020.

With the move, Newsom would be killing two birds with one stone—making landlords whole while forgiving unpaid rents for those who would have otherwise been evicted.

In a tweet, Newsom dubbed it as “rent forgiveness on a scale never seen before in the United States”.

The program—which is still being fine-tuned by legislators— would be available to residents who earn no more than 80 percent of the median income in their area and who can prove hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 900,000 households in California are behind on rent, with an average of $4,600 in rental arrears according to an analysis by PolicyLink and the USC Equity Research Institute.

California has put a pricetag of $5.2 billion on the program, with most of the funds coming from the federal government. Analysts say it’s more than enough to cover the cost, with Newsom also stating that the payment of utility bills could also be on the table.

In the meantime, the state’s eviction ban is set to retire at the end of the month. Housing advocates want it extended. Those representing landlords disagree, pointing to the state’s economic recovery and the fact that many of them have not been paid any rent for more than a year.

“The moratorium has now been in place for almost a year and a half. Throughout that time, small property owners, folks who have saved their whole lives to buy a rental unit, elderly persons who use rental income to pay for their current care … have faced a lot of significant challenges,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger. “It is incumbent that we find a way to phase out the eviction moratorium, but based on what I’m hearing, now is not the time.”

Newsom is expected to extend the deadline. The L.A. County Board of Supervisors already voted to extend a moratorium on evictions through September 30. The local moratorium applies where it does not overlap with state protections for residential tenants. It also covers commercial evictions, no-fault evictions and prohibits ousting tenants for unauthorized occupants, pets and other nuisances.


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