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California to extend eviction ban, pay back rent for tenants

California to extend eviction ban, pay back rent for tenants

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SACRAMENTO — California will ban evictions for unpaid rent through the end of September and pay off all back rent for eligible tenants under a deal announced Friday by Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders.

California banned evictions after Newsom imposed the nation's first statewide shutdown in March 2020 and ordered most businesses to close and people to stay home to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Those protections are scheduled to expire on Wednesday. The new agreement will extend the eviction moratorium through Sept. 30.

To be eligible for $5.2 billion provided by the federal government to California for this the effort, tenants must pay at least 25% of what they owe by Sept. 30, sign a declaration that they have had economic hardship because of COVID-19 and must earn 80% or less of the area median income.

“Our housing situation in California was a crisis before COVID, and the pandemic has only made it worse — this extension is key to making sure that more people don’t lose the safety net helping them keep their home,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins, a Democrat from San Diego. “While our state may be emerging from the pandemic, in many ways, the lingering financial impact still weighs heavily on California families.”

Newsom, who will face a recall election later this year fueled by criticism of his handling of the pandemic, said in a news release he is thankful for the legislative proposal, “which I am eager to sign into law as soon as I receive it.”

California has some of the most expensive rents in the country affordable and an housing shortage. About 25% of California's renters pay at least half of their income on housing costs, a figure that includes rent and utilities, according to the California Department of Finance.

The extension gives state officials more time to disburse the money. A report from the California Department of Housing and Community Development showed the state had received $490 million in requests but had paid just $32 million covering 2,500 households as of May 31. That figure does not include some of the state's larger cities, which run their own rental assistance programs.

California Apartment Association CEO Tom Bannon said California would not have to extend the eviction moratorium if it were able to spend money faster.

“It's unacceptable that state and local governments have distributed less than 15% of the billions of dollars earmarked for California rental assistance,” said Bannon, whose organization represents landlords. “California has got to distribute these dollars faster so that the eviction moratorium being introduced is the last.”

June 15th is a big day here in California. Physical distancing, capacity limits and a county tier system have ended. Over a year of restrictions."You had time to grow, time to spend with your family,"  Christina, from San Diego said. Months of frustration...I got really bored of wearing a mask," Tamer from Oakland said.  Theres finally a break for the Golden State. California, the first to shut down in March 2020, now 15 months ago...is among the last states to lift its COVID mandates. Masks are gone for fully vaccinated folks, but businesses can decide if they still want people to wear them. "I'm very happy because after many months closed and after the hard times for the COVID, now I see that the light is coming,"Martha Medina, a merchant at Olverita's Village in San Francisco said. Officials are hoping for a tourism boost...about half a million jobs in the state were lost during the height of the pandemic. "Business was off 70 percent last year, though it has really affected the Wharf," Tom La Torre, Owner of Sabella & La Torre Restaurant says of Fisherman's Warf, a popular tourist spot in San Francisco. Since mass vaccination sites began rolling out in early 2021, California has some of the lowest infection rates in the U.S. It once had the highest coronavirus community spread rates in the country -- showing what a difference vaccines are making.  Two-thirds of people 12 and up here have gotten at least one dose. There are still neighborhoods with low vaccination rates. Wealthier areas and white communities are outpacing low-income and Black and Latino populations.  The states awarded more than $15 million in lotteries to try to drive those numbers up. Even with all that, some are still weary of the virus. "I feel like Im not ready" Adelle from Oakland told Newsy."Just this-this is what I feel comfortable with right now," a woman in San Diego said.Some restrictions remain. Those unvaxed, still need a mask. Anyone on public transportation needs one too. Same with schools K-12, and some workplaces. Really, it's up to the business.At the Oakland Zoo, theyre still requiring social distancing and masks in high traffic places inside and outside. "We have people coming from other counties, people coming from out of state who may not have been vaccinated yet," Isabella Linares, Marketing Associate for the Oakland Zoo said. Many people Newsy spoke with are still confused by masking. Businesses can decide if they want to rely on the honor system or use a digital vaccination verification, set to roll out later this month.  Lindsey Theis, Newsy. San Francisco. 

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