The state of California is hoping to make landlords whole by using its $5.2 billion in congressionally approved funds to pay off owed back rent, simultaneously giving tenants a clean slate to hasten recovery. Governor Newsom announced recently his plan which also includes the largest tax rebate by a state, in the nation’s history.
“We should do our best to get back to the starting point where we were in December of 2019. Anything other than that is taking advantage of a crisis,” said Keith Becker, a property manager in Sonoma County.Newsweek
However, California’s slow plan of implementation, as of now, greatly overshadows Newsom’s ambitious plan as only $32 million out of $490 million in requests for rental assistance have been issued according to a report from the California Department Housing and Community Development. The urgency for such an undertaking is streamlined by the concerns of unemployed residents who owe up to $30,000 in back-rent, and the landlords who felt were unjustly asked to comply with moratoriums which added to their debt.
As we approach June 30, the question as to whether or not the state will extend eviction moratoriums remains to be answered (Edit: Ban on evictions extended to Sept. 30). It is proving to be the very difficult decision for Newsom’s governance because it could very well swing the tied significantly in the favor of one side.
Landlords and owners feel against-the-ropes due to the ‘endless’ protections that tenants are getting when after all, the protections were only meant to tackle the public health crisis, but the crisis seems to be dissipating with vast re-openings and eliminating mask restrictions.
“The expectation for people to be up and at ’em and ready to pay rent on July 1 is wholeheartedly unfair,” said Kelli Lloyd, a 43-year-old single mother who has not seen continuous employment since the pandemic began. The new effort to pay off back-rent will make it easier for unemployed tenants to get back on pace but they are still out of employment and still can’t pay rent even if the state is officially reopened.
The latest numbers indicate that employments rates for low income residents who make under $30,000/yr are down by 38% since Jan. 2020. This comes as a polarizing statistic after California accounted for 38% of all new jobs in the country in April.
“The stock market may be fine, we may be technically reopened, but people in low-wage jobs — which are disproportionately people of color — are not back yet,” said Madeline Howard, senior attorney for the Western Center on Law and Poverty.