On the final day of Women’s History Month, Acting Gov. Eleni Kounalakis signed legislation that extends eviction protections for Californians participating in rental assistance programs, making her the first woman in California’s history to sign a piece of legislation into law.

“California’s nation-leading rent relief program has provided much needed relief for more than 220,000 households across the state. Today’s action will provide additional time to thousands more who are in the process of acquiring emergency relief,” said Kounalakis. “I am deeply humbled to take this action and to be part of history today as the first woman in state history to sign legislation into law. I remain more determined than ever to ensure that while I may be the first to do so, I will certainly not be the last.” 

AB 2179 by Assem.Tim Grayson (D-Concord) and Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) extends eviction protections through June 30 to help ensure housing stability for eligible tenants who applied for assistance from state or local rental assistance programs by March 31.

“California is leading the nation’s economic recovery from the pandemic, and we’re committed to ensuring all of our communities can access the supports they need to get back on their feet,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom. “Today’s action preserves important protections so that struggling families can keep a roof over their heads as the state works to provide critical assistance to thousands of households across California.” 

California’s $5.5 billion COVID-19 Rent Relief program is the largest statewide renter assistance program in the country and covers 100 percent of past-due rent payments for qualified low-income Californians. The state program has to date assisted more than 220,000 low-income households, with thousands of additional households assisted by local rent relief programs. 

Under the state program, tenants can access rental funds directly if their landlord chooses not to participate, and landlords can receive compensation even if their otherwise income-qualified tenants have already vacated a unit. Additional program information is available at the Housing Is Key website, https://housing.ca.gov/covid_rr/index.html.

Kounalakis also signed SB 504 by Senator Josh Becker (D-Menlo Park), which will allow military and overseas voters and voters with disabilities to complete a same day voter registration and cast a ballot. Additionally, it provides the Secretary of State more accurate voter rolls and streamlines the process for the state’s universal vote by mail system by removing a number of unnecessary provisions.

Kounalakis will serve as California’s Acting Governor until April 12 as Newsom and his family are on a spring break trip to Central and South America. He plans to stay in contact with legislative leaders during the trip.

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