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    Key COVID Relief To Expire: Advocates Warn Of ‘Eviction Tsunami’

    By Emily Hoeven

    A key deadline in California’s pandemic response is looming: Friday is the last day for residents to apply to the state’s COVID rent relief program.

    Starting Monday, landlords can move to evict non-paying tenants in cities or counties without local eviction protections in place — even if they have rent relief applications pending before the state.

    On Tuesday, advocates urged Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers to “stop the eviction tsunami” by extending the rent relief program, citing a recent analysis that found only 16% of the nearly half a million renters who applied for state money had been paid as of early March.

    • Nur Kausar, a communications manager for the state Housing and Community Development Department, told me in an email: “This is an emergency program designed to address the specific need that resulted from the pandemic.”
    • Kausar added that although the state’s rent relief application portal closes on March 31, the program “will continue to operate until all complete applications received are processed and all eligible applicants have been paid.” She said the state has paid more than $2.47 billion to more than 215,000 households, though that’s less than half of the nearly 490,000 that have applied for relief so far.
    • Legislative staffers told me that conversations with stakeholders are ongoing.

    Meanwhile, a Tuesday report from Acting State Auditor Michael Tilden found that California isn’t effectively using the state’s surplus properties to alleviate the affordable housing crisis — one reason why more than 1.4 million low-income households were unable to access affordable housing in 2021.

    The report found that:

    • California could build more than 32,000 affordable housing units under Newsom’s 2019 executive order directing state agencies to identify surplus land for that purpose.
    • However, after surveying more than 44,000 parcels of surplus land, the state Department of General Services identified just 92 suitable for development. Of those, it’s made only 19 available for more than 1,700 units of affordable housing.
    • The department’s current pace means it would take another seven years to make the remaining 73 properties available — though adding just one staff member could slash that time by more than two years.
    • Tilden wrote: “The state’s need for affordable housing is significantly outpacing its production, which is negatively affecting Californians. … 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.”

    Also Tuesday, Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, a Woodland Democrat, unveiled a bill that would require the state to create an online database of affordable housing listings and help low-income applicants simplify their search for a place to live.

    Housing and homelessness also played a central role in Tuesday night’s debate for the five leading Los Angeles mayoral candidates — as it did Monday, when a group of homelessness activists shut down a candidate forum at a San Fernando Valley synagogue by screaming profanities at the participants.

    The coronavirus bottom line: As of Monday, California had 8,466,020 confirmed cases (+0.01% from previous day) and 87,498 deaths (+0.01% from previous day), according to state data. CalMatters is also tracking coronavirus hospitalizations by county.

    California has administered 72,488,563 vaccine doses, and 74.3% of eligible Californians are fully vaccinated.

     

    The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal


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    1 COMMENT

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    Tommy
    1 month ago

    What about the landlords? Many of them may go broke. Geeesh !

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