The LA County Board of Supervisors voted this week to extend a local eviction moratorium through Sept. 30, while warning that such protections will begin to be phased out.
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl recommended the extension—which she said is protecting tens of thousands of residents from eviction—and also acknowledged that small landlords are struggling and need assistance.
“No one should be made homeless by this crisis,” Kuehl said, promising a “thoughtful phase-out in a way that doesn’t jeopardize the success we’ve had.”
The local moratorium applies where it does not overlap with state protections for residential tenants unable to pay rent due to COVID-19-related financial stress. It covers commercial evictions, no-fault evictions and prohibits ousting tenants for unauthorized occupants, pets and other nuisances.
Supervisor Janice Hahn said she had considered an amendment limiting the moratorium to tenants who had applied for state and local rent relief, but said she didn’t believe such a motion would pass.
“There are two sides to this equation,” Hahn said, adding that she wanted to “make sure that our mom-and-pop landlords do get the rent they’re owed.”
The motion was ultimately passed with multiple amendments, including a call for county lawyers and staffers to report back on the ability to make protections conditional on good-faith efforts to apply for rent relief.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger underscored landlords’ concerns.
“The moratorium has now been in place for almost a year and a half. Throughout that time, small property owners, folks who have saved their whole lives to buy a rental unit, elderly persons who use rental income to pay for their current care … have faced a lot of significant challenges,” Barger said. “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.”
In a related move, as the June 30 expiration date approaches for California’s eviction moratorium, Gov. Gavin Newsom has made a promise to landlords and renters: The state will pay off all past-due rent that accumulated during the pandemic.
“The expectation for people to be up and at ‘em and ready to pay rent on July 1 is wholeheartedly unfair,” said Kelli Lloyd, a 43-year-old single mother who says she has not worked consistently since the pandemic began in March 2020.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Lloyd said she’s $30,000 behind after not working for most of the last year to care for her two children as day care centers closed and schools halted in-person learning.
“Simply because the state has opened back up doesn’t mean people have access to their jobs,” she said.
California has $5.2 billion to pay off people’s rent, money from multiple aid packages approved by Congress. That appears to be more than enough to cover all of the unpaid rent in the state, according to Jason Elliott, senior counselor to Newsom on housing and homelessness.
According to Associated Press, the state has been slow to distribute that money, and it’s unlikely it can spend it all by June 30. A report from the California Department Housing and Community Development showed that of the $490 million in requests for rental assistance through May 31, just $32 million has been paid. That doesn’t include the 12 cities and 10 counties that run their own rental assistance programs.
Some housing advocates are asking the state to keep the eviction ban in place until the unemployment rate among low-wage workers has dropped to pre-pandemic levels. It’s similar to how state officials would impose restrictions on businesses in counties where COVID-19 infection rates were higher while those with lower infection rates could reopen more quickly.
Advocates say they were encouraged when Newsom told Univision earlier this month that he “definitively” wants to extend the eviction protections beyond June 30.
“We’re cautiously optimistic,” said Francisco Duenas, executive director of Housing Now California. “We definitely need these protections as part of our recovery.”