California to extend eviction ban, pay back rent for tenants

State News

FILE – In this Oct. 14, 2020, file photo, housing activists erect a sign in Swampscott, Mass. A federal freeze on most evictions is set to expire soon. The moratorium, put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in September, was the only tool keeping millions of tenants in their homes. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — 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.

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