An extension of eviction protection in California ended Thursday night, despite concerns from tenant attorneys that thousands across the state are at risk of losing their housing.
The protection was lifted after more than two years of legislative action by lawmakers hoping to prevent vulnerable Californians from being evicted from their homes during the pandemic.
The latest extension came in March when Acting Governor Eleni Kounalakis signed legislation that kept eviction protections in effect for those participating in rental assistance programs until June 30. She said the delay will give more time to Californians still in the process of getting emergency aid.
So while the eviction moratorium officially ended in September last year, landlords looking to evict tenants had to first apply for financial aid to cover the rent owed. This ensured that tenants were not evicted.
California’s Billions of Dollars COVID-19 Rent Relief Program was set up to cover rent arrears for qualified low-income residents.
On Thursday, 329,327 of the 398,526 households that had applied for housing benefit were served, according to the state rent relief dashboard†
On average, those approved for aid received about $11,667, with the state disbursing a total of more than $3.8 billion, according to the dashboard.
On Thursday night, eviction protections were lifted despite criticism from lawyers who say thousands of families at risk of being displaced have still not received a response from the state about compensation for their rent arrears.
Meanwhile, state officials in June said that case managers had reviewed every application submitted through the Housing is Key portal, and that employees had telephone contact with applicants who had incomplete tasks in their application.
The program has been criticized for months for being slow in handing out payments.
Last month, various tenant organizations have lawsuit against the Department of Housing and Community Development, claiming that it “administered the Emergency Rental Assistance Program in a manner that is opaque and disproportionately harms tenants based on race, color, and national origin.”
The department was responsible for sending the payments to tenants in areas where no local rental lighting programs had been set up to distribute the money.
To qualify for rent reduction, renters’ household incomes had to be equal to or less than 80% of the region’s median income for their county.
Tenants were also required to confirm that they have experienced financial difficulties related to COVID-19, and submit various documents, including 2020 tax returns, W-2s, pay slips and other documents.
KTLA has contacted the housing department for a statement.
The city of LA has a moratorium on eviction in place until at least April 1, 2023. LA County also has its own tenant protection†
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