Legislators urged the California State Assembly to pass a $5 billion rental relief program to prevent mass evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID is not going away any time soon and millions of Californians need rent relief now. We are facing economic devastation and unprecedented levels of unemployment,” said Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, said in a statement.
“Communities across California, especially low-income communities, are struggling to feed their kids, let alone pay their rent. This is an emergency and it’s absolutely necessary that we deliver rental assistance to avoid evictions and prevent a (tidal) wave of people from landing on the streets,” Santiago said.
Hundreds of thousands of renters are at risk of losing their houses and apartments amid the pandemic once the local and state eviction moratoriums are lifted. Rent relief funding would provide an additional safety net to help prevent more people from becoming homeless, said Assemblyman Mike Gipson, D-Carson.
“Our homeless crisis is out of control. This pandemic has made it worse, with Black and brown communities being hit the hardest. California must act now to ensure that families aren’t left on the streets once the eviction moratoriums expire,” Gipson said.
The legislature passed the Tenant Relief Act in 2020, which protected renters from evictions but kept them on the line for missed payments.
“By holiday time, 240,000 California households owed an average of $7,000 in back rent. This as we approach 2.5 million COVID-19 cases, and mourn 30,000 lives lost,” said Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo, D-Los Angeles.
“Stopgap measures won’t cut it because this is a matter of life and death. When we help tenants repay their landlords, we help keep families in their homes. For the wellbeing of our loved ones, and our neighbors, we must provide rental assistance right away,” Carrillo said.
Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, noted that the vast majority of her district’s residents are renters, and many of the properties are managed by mom-and-pop landlords who need economic relief, as well.
“The COVID rent crisis is real and families and small business owners need immediate relief. This budget request is a wise use of our state resources,” Garcia said. “It’s an intelligent and equitable means of providing that relief in a way that helps renters stay in their homes and property owners, especially small mom-and-pop property owners, pay their mortgages and avoid foreclosure,” Garcia said.
– City News Service