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California offers to pay rent for people who missed payments due to COVID-19


Millions of Americans have either lost their jobs or seen their incomes drop during the coronavirus pandemic. As such, many people have fallen significantly behind on their rent.

Normally, non-payment of rent is grounds for eviction, but thanks to the federal moratorium on evictions which was recently extended until the end of July, tenants are temporarily protected. Once this nationwide ban expires, however, many tenants might be out of luck.

In California, however, tenants can line up for relief. This is because the state has pledged to repay all unpaid rent accrued during the pandemic.

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The money is there

California has received $ 5.2 billion from various federal assistance programs to pay off unpaid renters from tenants, which should be enough to cover unpaid rents statewide. This $ 5.2 billion is part of a larger pool of rent relief funds that has been made available through the last two stimulus bills signed.

The problem, however, is that, like many other states, California has been slow to distribute this money. The state has received a total of $ 490 million in rental assistance requests through May 31. But only $ 32 million was paid out without counting the 12 cities and 10 counties that run their own independent rental assistance programs, reports the Associated Press.

In fact, in total, just over 2% of those who applied for rent assistance in California actually received it. But since the money is there, it makes sense for the state to commit to meeting any outstanding rent obligations.

A longer expulsion ban too

While the federal moratorium on evictions is now due to expire on July 31, California is considering extending its own ban on evictions until September 30. As part of this proposal, rent assistance payments will also be streamlined and new processes will be put in place to prevent tenants from being evicted if they are found to be eligible for assistance.

Tenant advocates have said many people eligible for rental assistance are unable to navigate the delicate application process. On the other hand, homeowners’ advocates have said the state’s extension of the eviction ban is not fair to the people they represent. After all, homeowners have their own mortgages and property expenses to cover, and neither should they have to sit idly by and wait for help that has been ridiculously slow to arrive.

The slow deployment of rental assistance funds has been a problem at the national level, and in fact prompted the recent extension of the national ban on eviction. Of course, even before this announcement was made, some states had already made the decision to extend their own eviction protections to avoid a massive homeless crisis. Offering to pay rent to any tenant who has missed a payment could advance this concept, but so far it appears other states aren’t rushing to follow in California’s footsteps.

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