With rent protections expiring for Californians in under two weeks, tenants hit hard by the pandemic are at risk when eviction court proceedings resume as currently scheduled on August 24.
The situation could become dire with only around 40% [Housing Table 2a] of Americans expressing high confidence that they will be able to make the August rent payment, and a potential 23 million Americans facing eviction.
While an extension of the CARES act has been announced, it will only provide protections for an estimated 28% of renters who rent units that are subject to certain federal loans and assistance programs. This leaves the bulk of the evictions protections at the digression of state and local governments.
Governor Gavin Newsom has signed an extension to allow local governments within California to impose eviction moratoriums until September 30, yet pressure remains for a renewal of the statewide moratorium in place until August 14 or for alternative legislative solutions.
One such solution is Bill AB1436 that would prohibit evictions for people afflicted by the pandemic and provide eligible tenants with a one-year make-up payment period.
Another is Bill SB1410, introduced by California state senators Anna Caballero and Steven Bradford from Los Angeles County, that would provide tax credit vouchers for homeowners in order to reduce their tax burden from 2024 to 2033. The credits could also be sold for immediate cash.
Protests to halt evictions have already begun in New Orleans, where demonstrators blocked a courthouse and created noise in order to halt and disrupt eviction proceedings five days after a state-level eviction ban expired.
The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Action is currently advocating for Bill AB 1436 as part of their greater campaign for a dismissal of rent payments during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The bottom line would be that rent should be cancelled, mortgages should be cancelled, nobody should have to worry about paying that in the middle of a pandemic,” says Ibraheem, an ACCE Action Sacramento chapter member.
“It’s hard for me to wrap my head around that concept, of so many people losing housing like that,” he reflects. “The housing element is really important – it’s hard to have a conversation about anything if you don’t even have a home.”