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    Eviction Moratorium Extended

    By Assemblymember Phil Ting–

    The numbers are striking. A recent U.S. Census Bureau survey found nearly two million adult Californians are behind on their rent. State budget officials estimate the tab of how much they owe is $400 million, but federal and independent researchers put that figure at more than $1 billion.

    As Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, I ensured we took quick action last month to provide relief, leading state lawmakers to enact the strongest renter safeguards in the country—going even further than the federal order signed by President Biden on his first day in office.

    With the passage of SB 91, California’s moratorium on evictions, originally set to expire at the end of January, has been extended through June. This allows residents to stay in their homes, if they declare under penalty of perjury that their inability to pay rent is due to COVID-19. Tenants must also pay 25% of all rent owed from September 2020 through June 2021 in order to be protected from eviction. These payments can be made either monthly or in one lump sum.

    The legislation also creates a State Rental Assistance Program, using $2.6 billion in funds from Congress to help both tenants and landlords pay off rental debt. It targets income-eligible Californians who are most at-risk of becoming homeless, while also preventing property owners from foreclosure. But landlords have to agree to forgive 20% of arrears, or “back rent,” in order to qualify for subsidies that will cover the remaining 80% of what their tenants owe. Housing advocates say direct payment is the best strategy to keep a roof over people’s heads. If a landlord does not want to participate, any back rent owed by a tenant cannot be the basis for eviction.

    The application process for this new tenant and landlord aid is still being developed, but will be available no later than March 15th. When ready, information can be found at https://landlordtenant.dre.ca.gov/

    In addition to these state provisions, local resources can help further stabilize families. The San Francisco Rent Board, for instance, oversees all rental rules and regulations and can offer counseling in multiple languages. There are also nonprofits, such as Tenants Together and the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, which provide services including legal representation. Anyone served with an eviction notice during the moratorium can certainly turn to these groups for support.

    Tenants Together: COVID-19 Tenants Defense

    https://www.tenantstogether.org/covid-19-tenant-defense

    Tenderloin Housing Clinic: Legal Programs

    https://www.thclinic.org/programs/legal-programs.php

    We know more work needs to be done as many renters are still struggling and living on the edge. This is a time when people need their government the most, and we’re committed to not only preventing homelessness, but also to spurring economic recovery and ramping up vaccine distribution. These are the keys that will enable California to emerge from the pandemic stronger.

    Phil Ting represents the 19th Assembly District, which includes the Westside of San Francisco along with the communities of Broadmoor, Colma, and Daly City.

    Published on February 25, 2021