The California Assembly voted Monday to extend the state's eviction moratorium through Sept. 30, giving renters behind on their rent payments a lifeline.
Gov. Gavin Newsom and state legislative leaders reached an agreement on extending the eviction moratorium last week, and the bill passed the state assembly just two days before the moratorium was set to expire Wednesday.
Had the moratorium expired, landlords could have begun kicking non-paying tenants out this week.
California Assemblyman Miguel Santiago said the three-month extension on the moratorium will prevent a tsunami of evictions.
"This is a life saver... the difference between living on the street in your car or staying in your apartment."
One 74-year-old LA County woman, who asked not to be identified, was already preparing to be kicked out.
She said she recently got an eviction notice posted on her door, because she owes more than $12,000 in back rent. The pandemic cost her the freelance work that used to supplement her $1200-per-month social security checks.
"It’s horrible," she said. "They want you to be out and there’s nothing you can do."
The measure passed by the assembly Monday would also reimburse landlords for 100% of back-rent owed by eligible renters who apply for the state's program. If the LA County woman can prove she qualifies, she'll be able to stay in her apartment.
"It would just relieve a lot of grief you have every day," she said.
Eligible renters must make 80% of the area median income or less to qualify for the program. In LA, that's $95,000 for a family of four.
The measure would also pay the tenant's utilities, with the money coming from $5 billion in federal COVID relief money.
But some landlords are disappointed that the moratorium has been extended for a fourth time since the pandemic began. Matthew Parish runs a company that owns and manages 400 apartments in Los Angeles, and says some tenants simply stopped paying rent when they found out state help might be available.
"And then they’ve even applied for the program and been told look - you can pay your rent - you have money.. you’re going to be last in line," Parish said of those tenants. "But they’re still refusing to pay us rent because they’re holding out that they may have the ability to get those funds.”
To prevent fraud, a provision in the bill states that tenants who are caught cheating the system can be criminally prosecuted. The bill is expected to pass in the California Senate in time for Newsom to sign it this week.