California’s moratorium against evicting renters claiming a hardship caused by COVID-19 was extended to Sept. 30, despite the state covering the rent tab for those behind on payments.
The moratorium was previously set to expire June 30.
State legislative leaders and Gov. Gavin Newsom, all members of the Democratic Party, on June 25 announced they had reached an agreement in their three-way negotiations (among the governor, state senate, and state assembly) regarding the moratorium.
Legislators on June 28 published the revisions, which presumably incorporate the changes agreed to with the governor.
If passed by both chambers of the California legislature and signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Assembly Bill 832 would “enact the COVID-19 Rental Housing Recovery Act.”
The legislation protects tenants claiming to be under pandemic-related financial distress from eviction until Sept. 30. Landlords are prohibited from seeking evictions for any reason, and cannot turn off utilities or report tenants to immigration authorities in retaliation for tenants claiming to suffer COVID-19 related hardship.
Under the bill, the state would reimburse landlords up to 100 percent of overdue rent payments, as well as cover up to 100 percent of future rent payments. It would also help fund renters’ utility bills.
When announcing the results of the negotiations, Newsom’s office said, “The three-party agreement on AB 832—which extends the current eviction moratorium through September 30, 2021—will ensure that California quickly uses the more than $5 billion in federal rental assistance.”
Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) said, “Our housing situation in California was a crisis before COVID, and the pandemic has only made it worse.”
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) added, “This moratorium will keep families in homes, provide critical financial support to landlords, and help protect our supply of rental housing.”
Women Faring Worse
According to current U.S. Census data, a higher percentage of women renters or homeowners are faring worse than they were a year ago. The most recent U.S. Census data shows that women who are behind on housing payments make up 6.3 percent of renters in California—up from six percent a year ago.
The experience of women renters is dramatically different from their male counterparts; a year ago, men who were behind on their rent payments made up 8.8 percent of all California renters. Today, men who are late on rent make up just 4.4 percent of renters.
Relief for Mortgage Borrowers
The legislation proposed by Assembly Bill 832 does have a provision that might be helpful for mortgage borrowers: if a mortgage lender doesn’t grant a forbearance to a California borrower, it must declare in writing why the request was denied.
The most recent U.S, Census data shows that women behind on mortgage payments make up 4.8 percent of California mortgage borrowers—up from 3.8 percent a year ago.
Again, this contrasts with the experience men are having. A year ago, about the same percentage of male mortgage borrowers, 4.1 percent, were behind on mortgage payments. However, in the most recent survey, the U.S. Census found that men behind on their mortgage payments made up only 3.3 percent of California mortgage borrowers.
Tying together many of the disparate issues at hand, Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco), chair of the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee, said: “Even though our state has reopened, hundreds of thousands of Californians are grappling with rental debt and the threat of eviction.
“Removing eviction protections now, while billions of rent relief dollars are still available, would be a disaster and exacerbate our homelessness crisis. This proposal avoids a massive eviction cliff, allowing us to keep tenants in their homes, and get landlords the financial support they need.”
Tim Shaler is a professional investor and economist based in Southern California. He is a regular columnist for The Epoch Times, where he exclusively provides some of his original economic analysis.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.