Newsom extends statewide ban on evictions

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Ahead of protections that were set to expire Sunday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday that he signed a bill that extends rent relief for tenants affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as support for landlords. 

Senate Bill 91, which received bipartisan support from state legislators whose districts include the Santa Clarita Valley, prolongs the statewide ban on evictions for nonpayment related to the coronavirus crisis from Jan. 31 to June 20. 

Under the new bill, which picks up from last year’s Assembly Bill 3088, property owners who agree to waive 20% of unpaid rent will become eligible for 80% in rent reimbursements of a tenant’s rent missed between April 2020 and March 2021. The state’s rental assistance program will start taking applications from landlords and tenants in March. 

Eligible households are those with an 80% or less area median income, prioritizing the unemployed and those whose income is 50% or less of the area median income. 

The funds come after California allocated more than $2 billion in federal stimulus dollars specific for rental aid. 

“This law not only provides greatly needed support for tenants but also provides relief to small property owners in need of assistance to pay for mortgages, thanks to $2.6 billion in federal stimulus funding,” said Newsom in a prepared statement Friday. 

Friday’s move comes after the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved in early January an extension of the countywide ban on evictions through Feb. 28 and enhanced the county’s rent-relief program through Dec. 31. 

The county’s program makes available $10,000 in rental assistance for eligible households, makes direct payments to households to pay their rent in cases where landlords refuse to participate in the program, and allows payments for tenants who have had to use credit cards or loans to pay their rent. 

Once the county’s eviction ban expires at the end of February, renters will be covered under the state’s new law, according to Keven Chavez, a spokesman for the county’s Department of Consumer and Business Affairs. 

News of the passage of SB 91 was applauded by the Housing Rights Center, an L.A.-based nonprofit that has helped an estimated 100 Santa Clarita Valley renters since the onset of the pandemic who have been unable to pay their rent, according to Elana Eden, director of media for the center.

“The revised law provides needed relief by removing the immediate threat of eviction for many tenants and providing important new financial protections for both tenants and small landlords. But more action is needed to prevent — not just delay — certain homelessness for many who will lose their homes and be saddled with overwhelming debt long after the pandemic,” said Eden via email. 

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