California running out of money for emergency rental relief

State got $62M of the $1.6B of supplemental aid it sought

San Francisco /
Jan.January 17, 2022 10:15 AM
Lourdes Castro Ramirez, secretary, California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency; Debra Carlton, executive vice president, California Apartment Association; Jonathan Russell, chief strategy officer, Bay Area Community Services (iStock, California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency, CAA, Bay Area Community Services)

The rent is apparently still too damn high.
California is running short of the $5.2 billion that it set aside for pandemic rental relief, the Mercury News reported, saying that the state received only $62 million of federal funds, well short of the $1.9 billion it sought. Requests to assist tenants and landlords with debt, meantime, have hit $6.9 billion.

While some of those applications will inevitably be ineligible or duplicates that will be denied, Oakland has started a waitlist in anticipation that demand will soon exceed supply.

As housing and landlord advocates decry the pandemic’s strain on a system that was supposed to curb evictions and keep families housed, state officials estimate they will need an additional $2.5 billion to cover rising demand.

“California will need significantly more funding from future federal reallocations in order to continue to meet the needs of low-income California renters impacted by Covid-19,” Lourdes Castro Ramirez, the state’s Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency secretary, told the Mercury.

Tenants and landlords who need assistance can apply to state and local programs to have up to 100 percent of back rents paid to landlords. So far the state estimates about $2.5 billion has been paid to landlords, helping almost 250,000 families. The state prioritizes the lowest income families and tenants facing displacement.

By April 1, landlords will be allowed to evict tenants for nonpayment of rent in most cities, something that’s making local housing advocates restless.

“We are very concerned,” Debra Carlton, executive vice president of the California Apartment Association, told the Mercury. “Millions of dollars have gone unpaid to tenants and owners. Many owners have received no rent for months. They cannot pay their taxes, mortgages and other expenses if the rent continues to go unpaid.”

Jonathan Russell with Bay Area Community Services in Oakland compared the situation to the subprime mortgage collapse that started in 2007.

“We will very likely, not immediately, see the impact on homelessness,” Russell said. “These impacts will probably slowly grow and accrue in coming months and years.”

[MN] — Victoria Pruitt





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