With the coronavirus spreading exponentially and forcing record numbers of Californians out of the workforce for at least a month, Gov. Gavin Newsom has ordered a statewide ban on all evictions until May 31, the Mercury News reports.
The move offers some solace to tens of thousands of tenants trying to figure out how to make April rent, but this may prove to be just a stop-gap measure as the state’s Employment Development Department processed 186,809 unemployment claims last week, up from 57,606 the week before, and last week’s total was 363 percent higher than those processed during the same week last year.
Only renters who can declare in writing that the virus has directly impacted their employment can take advantage of the eviction freeze, by stating that they have lost work, gotten sick, or must take care of family members. The prohibition against landlords going after tenants for non-payment also bans law enforcement and courts from taking any eviction action during the moratorium.
California unemployment applications have reached 1,000,000 in just 12 days, Newsom said Thursday. Today’s executive order serves to strengthen a directive Newsom issued on March 16, which gave local governments the power to halt evictions and slow foreclosures, and to stall the disruption of basic utilities.
“People shouldn’t lose or be forced out of their home because of the spread of COVID-19,” Newsom said upon issuing the initial executive order. “Over the next few weeks, everyone will have to make sacrifices—but a place to live shouldn’t be one of them. I strongly encourage cities and counties take up this authority to protect Californians.”
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