Governor Newsom urged to expand protections to prevent tsunami of evictions

If California doesn’t expand protections for tenants behind on rent, evictions will follow. (Getty Images)

Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

Ramón Toscano, father of 6 children, including a baby, lost his income when the pandemic broke out and began to fall behind on rent payments.

Although he applied for rental assistance through the state and was accepted, he was only approved for a part-time period, so it was not possible to pay the landlord in full.

As a result, the landlord has been harassing him non-stop.

Ramón fears that as soon as eviction protections expire on March 31, his family will be left homeless.

In just 10 days, the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) will stop accepting new applications for relief while at the same time ending protections that prohibit homeowners from filing eviction petitions against tenants who have not paid rent due to the economic impact of covid-19.

Signs to cancel rent payment
Many families have not been able to receive help paying rent. (Getty Images)

That’s why faith, public health and housing leaders who support renters urged Governor Gavin Newsom and state leaders to expand protections to prevent evictions and rising homelessness in California.

And it is that as of April 1, landlords will be able to start filing eviction notices for people who have lost their income due to covid and have not paid the rent.

The leaders indicated that only a fraction of those who have requested relief from the Emergency Rental Assistance program have received their payments.

A recent study of National Equity Atlas (National Equity Atlas), and the organizations Western Center on Law & Poverty, and Housing Nowrevealed that more than 366,000 of the 534,666 applicants to the rent relief program are still waiting for assistance.

Given the long wait times, a high number of tenants are likely to face eviction before they finally receive help, the leaders said in a statement.

And they felt that leaving Californians vulnerable to eviction will be a barrier to a full recovery of California’s economy.

They said it is inconceivable that state leaders are striving to address the homeless crisis while allowing current COVID eviction prevention programs and renter protections to expire on March 31.

Evictions cause homelessness, and there is a clear relationship between evictions and the health of those who are expelled from their homes, they stated.

Tenants, they said, should not be penalized by the slow process of the rental assistance program.

“The state cannot leave the more than 534,000 applicants who followed the correct procedures to stay in the home vulnerable to eviction just because they take too long to receive payments. California can’t afford to exacerbate its homeless crisis like that.”.

A man sits beside a tent on a street in downtown Los Angeles, California December 8, 2021. - The 2020 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count released by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority in June 2020 revealed that 66,436 people in Los Angeles County are homeless, a rise of a 12.7% from the previous year, while the city of Los Angeles saw a 16.1% rise in the unhoused population to a total of 41,290 persons.  (Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)
Evictions will increase the number of families living on the streets. (Getty Images)

Jenise Dixon, tenant leader for the nonprofit Alliance of Californians for Community Los Angeles Empowerment (ACCE LA), you have been waiting for months for your application for rental assistance to be processed correctly, and you have been trapped in a bureaucratic nightmare, as you have not been able to submit your application, because you cannot provide a copy of your leasing contract.

“He can’t do it because even though I’ve lived in the same building for 19 years, the landlord refuses to give me the contract.”

In fact, she said the landlord has been harassing her to leave and is trying to pressure her into signing a new lease that requires her to pay much more rent money; and if she doesn’t like her, she asks him to leave.

No California resident, regardless of immigration status, should be evicted; or be subject to years of debt for rent that he was unable to pay during the pandemic, the leaders said.

They ask for the rent aid to be extended until August. (Aurelia Ventura/The Opinion)

The organization Housing NOW called on state leaders to ensure that the tsunami of evictions that is coming is stopped by meeting the following demands:

  • Extend the ERAP application period through the end of August and allow tenants to apply for rental assistance to cover rent owed through the month of August.
  • Allow tenants to apply for up to 23 total months of assistance through a combination of future and back rent.
  • Commit to funding all eligible applications received by the end of August, using state funds to cover the additional five months of assistance, as well as any remaining gaps once the US Treasury Department completes reallocations of funds federal emergency rental assistance.
  • Prohibit landlords from serving eviction notices to anyone who has a pending rent relief application.
  • Expand additional protections for renters, such as long-term prohibitions on no-fault evictions, including Ellis Act evictions, and limitations on rent increases.
  • Ensuring that small families and struggling homeowners are first in line for payment, and that renters have the protections provided by the $2.6 billion in Federal Funds.
  • Stop any other action of the local authority. Jurisdictions should have maximum flexibility to design locally tailored solutions. State laws should complement local rent relief efforts, not limit them.