A final extension of California’s COVID-era eviction moratorium expired on Thursday, ending emergency housing protections for thousands of families just in time for the Fourth of July.
Tenant advocates say the end of the ban on evictions will further exacerbate a statewide homeless situation for which the term “crisis” no longer has any meaning. Landlords counter that the protections had been in place for more than two years. The latest extension of the moratorium was signed into law just this March, when Acting Gov. Eleni Kounalakis—filling in for Gov. Gavin Newsom, who was on spring break—signed legislation that kept eviction protections in place for people participating in rental assistance programs until June 30, KTLA reports.
Kounalakis said the extension was necessary for people who had applied for assistance through March 30, but were still trying to access the help they were qualified for via California’s rent relief program—which had spent more than $5 billion as of May 26, Newsom’s office announced in a press release at the time.
The state program had provided rental assistance to more than 309,000 households at that point, Newsom’s office said, with an average payment of more than $11,000.
“With an average of 2.33 individuals per household assisted,” the statement said, “the state program has kept more than 720,000 adults, children and seniors in their homes. And with the hard work of local jurisdictions that are running their own rent relief programs, an additional 233,000 households have been served, assisting a total of more than 500,000 residents. In all, the number of people kept stably housed exceeds 1.2 million.”
As of Thursday, KTLA reports, 329,327 of 398,526 households that applied for rent relief were served, according to the state’s rent relief dashboard, and tenant advocates say that thousands of families at risk for displacement still haven’t gotten responses from the state about relief for their past-due rents.
State officials in June said that case managers had reviewed every application submitted through the Housing is Key portal, and that workers were calling applicants who have incomplete applications.
Some private organizations are still helping people navigate the next steps, for example United Way in Santa Barbara. KQED has put together a guide for Californians who now find themselves under threat of eviction.
Although this was always coming, the timing is particularly unfortunate. Not only is this weekend supposed to be a celebration of 246 years of our republic being a thing, the U.S. is currently at 8.6 percent inflation, the worst since 1982, when inflation hit 8.5 percent, and there were only three Friday the 13th movies, and everyone could happily enjoy Michael Jackson.
Residents of the city of Los Angeles still have a little more time to prepare. The city’s eviction moratorium will remain in place until at least until July 22, 2023, KTLA reports, and L.A. County has its own tenant protections as well.
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