Expanded unemployment has kept California renters afloat. But that’s set to expire

Renters, landlords, and housing advocates worry a wave of evictions is on the horizon

TRD LOS ANGELES /
Jul.July 17, 2020 10:30 AM
Los Angeles apartments (Credit: iStock)
Los Angeles apartments (Credit: iStock)

The majority of renters in California appear to be paying their rent in full despite the coronavirus pandemic, but that doesn’t mean it’s been easy.

Most sources show that at least four in five renters have paid their rent in recent months, according to the Los Angeles Times. That could change when federal unemployment benefits expire at the end of July.

Around 85 percent of California renters responding to a U.S. Census Bureau survey earlier this month said they paid their June rent in full.

A survey of landlords owning 11.4 million apartments by the landlord trade group National Multifamily Housing Council found that more than 94 percent of renters paid their rents in April, May, and June.

The general consensus among landlords, renters, and renter advocates is that the federal government’s expanded unemployment benefits are keeping the rent checks coming. Renters are expected to struggle to pay or completely miss payments when the benefits run out.

“What you’re asking renters to do is impossible for them to do,” said NMHC president Doug Bibby. “Which is do it again, but without the resources you’d given them.”

An Urban Institute study found that despite the number of people who lost their jobs since the pandemic, the share of California renters who spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent — about half of renters — hasn’t changed.
That’s an indication that while the benefits aren’t necessarily improving renters’ financial positions, they are at least making up for lost income. [LAT]Dennis Lynch


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