The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted Tuesday to extend the county’s rent eviction moratorium three months through Sept. 30 to allow residents more time to get back on their feet as the economy begins to return to pre-pandemic levels.
“As the economy gets back to pre-pandemic levels, it is incumbent that we find a way to phase out the eviction moratorium, but based on what I’m hearing, now is not the time,” said county Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District includes the Santa Clarita Valley.
This was a notion the board agreed on, also using the motion to start work on plans for phasing out protections and encouraging tenants to apply for available state and local rent relief in order to also support landlords.
A PolicyLink analysis found that approximately 900,000 California households are behind on rent, with an average of $4,600 in rental arrears.
The move comes as both federal and California’s eviction protections are set to expire June 30.
“We continue to push for changes to the state’s rent relief program, to ensure that this significant funding has a real impact to help offset rental debt for tenants and provide relief for landlords,” Barger said in the statement. “We are also hoping that the state will finally take action on its own eviction moratorium, which supersedes the county’s, to give our constituents clarity on what is next to come. In the meantime, we will continue to work with property owners, tenants and community-based organizations to prevent individuals from falling into homelessness and to find ways to bring relief to small, mom-and-pop landlords.”
A $5.2 billion program is in final negotiations with the state Legislature, which would pay 100% of unpaid rent that lower-income Californians incurred during the pandemic and would be financed entirely by federal money, which would reportedly come from the state’s budget surplus and COVID-19 relief funds.
If approved, the state’s program would be available to residents who earn no more than 80% of the median income in their area and who can show pandemic-related financial hardship.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median income in the city of Santa Clarita in 2019 was $99,666.
The county moratorium applies for residential tenants unable to pay rent due to COVID-19-related financial hardships where it does not overlap with the state’s protections.
The motion was ultimately passed with a number of amendments, including requiring tenants to make a good-faith effort to apply for applicable local and state rent relief programs to be protected from eviction.
More than 800 individuals applied to the city of Santa Clarita’s rental assistance program in April. The city is moving forward with processing the applications by contacting tenants and landlords, according to Michael Villages, the city’s preservation officer.
“The extension of the (county) moratorium…definitely provides residents that have not yet been served a cushion,” he said, noting the city will wait to see if the federal government will issue guidance on how the city’s program, which relies on federal dollars, would work with the state’s proposal to pay 100% of unpaid rent.
“As of now, (the state’s program) is not official, so we’re just proceeding forward as normal,” Villegas said.
Signal Staff Writer Kev Kurdoghlian contributed to this report.