California's COVID rent relief program could be extended through summer as deadline looms

Californians facing eviction could get a temporary reprieve under a bill endorsed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Assembly Bill 2179 would extend eviction protections through June 30 for Californians applying for funds from the state’s COVID-19 rent relief program.

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Under current law, statewide eviction protections are set to expire on April 1 — just one day after the March 31 deadline for residents to apply for state rent relief.

"Renters, and landlords, have been playing by the rules, and it’s not their fault that they haven’t received rent relief," said Assembly Member Miguel Santiago. "Part of the problem is the overwhelming amount of people who have applied for the program," he said.

Santiago is the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization and the Assembly Select Committee on Los Angeles County Homelessness. He urges residents to not be discouraged from applying for the state’s Housing is Key program which has been slow in providing funds.

Residents have until the 5 p.m. deadline Thursday to apply for rent relief and avoid being evicted if the bill passes. Those who haven’t applied by the deadline will not receive any protection. Landlords will still be able to take those tenants to court over missed rent starting Friday.

California's lawmakers approved over $5 billion in federal funds to help qualified applicants with 100% of unpaid rent dating back to April 2020, some of which are being distributed by local rent relief programs.

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"We have bills. I have a city business license and insurance to pay for. I have maintenance on the building. There are bills that come with being a landlord and somebody’s got to pay them," said Whittier Landlord Gene Hacker.

As the owner of a small duplex, Hacker signed up for COVID-19 Rent Relief Assistance last October. He checks the status of his application every day waiting for an update.

One of his tenants, Galadriel Powell, also applied for rent assistance last October with no answer.

"It’s so frustrating because they don’t tell you anything.  They don’t tell you about the steps or the processes," said Powell.

The bill expected to be heard on the Senate floor Thursday also prevents local governments from passing their own eviction protections until July 1 at the earliest.

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