An extension to California’s eviction protections ended Thursday night, despite concerns from tenant advocates that thousands across the state are at risk of losing their housing.
The protections were lifted after more than two years of legislative action by lawmakers hoping to keep vulnerable Californians from being evicted during the pandemic.
The latest extension came in March, when Acting Gov. Eleni Kounalakis signed legislation that kept eviction protections in place for those participating in rental assistance programs until June 30. She said the delay will provide more time for Californians still in the process of acquiring emergency relief.
So while the eviction moratorium officially expired in September last year, landlords who wanted to evict tenants had to first apply for financial assistance to cover the rent owed. This shielded tenants from being evicted.
California’s multi-billion dollar COVID-19 Rent Relief program was set up to cover past-due rent payments for qualified low-income residents.
As of Thursday, 329,327 of 398,526 households that applied for rent relief were served, according to the state’s rent relief dashboard.
On average, those approved for assistance received about $11,667, with the state paying out more than $3.8 billion in total, according to the dashboard.
On Thursday night, eviction protections were lifted despite criticism from advocates who say that thousands of families at risk for displacement still haven’t gotten responses from the state about relief for their past-due rents.
Meanwhile, state officials in June said that case managers had reviewed every application submitted through the Housing is Key portal, and that workers were making phone calls to applicants who have incomplete tasks in their application.
The program had for months received criticism for being slow in doling out payments.
Last month, several tenant organizations filed a lawsuit against the Department of Housing and Community Development, alleging that it was “administering the Emergency Rental Assistance Program in a way that is opaque and disproportionately harms tenants on the basis of race, color, and national origin.”
The department was in charge of sending out the payments to tenants in areas where there were no local rent relief programs set up to distribute the money.
To qualify for rent relief, tenants’ household income had to be at or below 80% of the Area Median Income for their county.
KTLA has reached out to the housing department for a statement.