Housing

Progressives Advocate For Extension of COVID Rent Relief Program

Written by William Hale

Gov. Gavin Newsom and California’s democratic legislature have been getting backlash from their constituents due to the April 1st expiration of the state’s COVID rent relief program. Progressive advocates have been asking the Governor to extend the state’s eviction protections indefinitely past April 1st.

Once the rent relief program ends, landlords will be allowed to move non-paying tenants out, even if tenants are waiting for the state’s response to their relief applications — a recent report from the California State Auditor found that only 16% of the nearly half a million renters who applied for state money had been paid by early March. 

In an email sent to CalMatters staff, Nick Kasuar — the communications manager for the state Housing and Community Development Department — stated that, “This is an emergency program designed to address the specific need that resulted from the pandemic.” But progressive housing advocates want the program to remain in place in order to “stop the eviction tsunami.”

The acting State Auditor Michael Tilden also found that the state’s surplus hasn’t been directed toward fixing the housing crisis, as 1.4 million low-income households didn’t find affordable housing last year. 

Tilden mentioned in his report, “The state’s need for affordable housing is significantly outpacing its production, which is negatively affecting California’s… High housing costs often result in families becoming behind on their rent and going without food, utilities, or health care. Further, a lack of affordable housing correlates with a significant increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness.” 

The City of Los Angeles had its first mayoral debate Tuesday, where candidates argued passionately on the issue of homelessness. It should be interesting to see if California Dems shift their rhetoric regarding housing and rent protection going forward. 

Photo Cred: Rich Pedroncelli, AP Photo