I voted to support extending the Eviction Moratorium to September 30, 2021 with an amendment to develop a program that averts an eviction because it is a necessary action that we must take to stem the tide of unhoused residents who are facing economic hardship due to COVID-19. I heard from hundreds of constituents both in support and in opposition to extending the eviction moratorium. What I am certain of is that our communities need a long term solution for our housing crisis.
The eviction moratorium was enacted to help us address a public health crisis – the COVID-19 pandemic, when the state was under a shelter in place order. Unfortunately, we have utilized it as a crutch for the housing crisis in our County.
The housing crisis was not created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic emphasized the tight rope our constituents walk when it comes to their housing. This tight rope of staying housed or becoming homeless is an experience shared by both tenants and homeowners. Homeowners who rent out their property play a part in our ecosystem of housing options. Small mom and pop landlords also provide opportunities for community centered housing options. They tend to be the landlords with strongest relationship to their tenants and provide fair rent increases to sustain their property.
In 2008, the foreclosure crisis ravished our communities. Black and Brown homeowners within my district lost two to three generations worth of wealth when their homes were foreclosed on. The response back then was to bail out the banks. The federal relief was directed to stabilize the banks and homeowners lost their home resulting in greater pressure to our rental market as homeowners were evicted from the homes – adding to our housing crisis. Today we can do things differently. We have a responsibility to do better by providing financial relief directly to tenants, homeowners and mom and pop landlords.
Our State received a significant amount of Federal funding for consumer rent debt. The federal government has provided over $50 billion in rent relief with California receiving more than $5.2 billion. Recent news reports are saying that the state may pay not only 80% of a tenant’s rental debt, but likely 100% percent. However, for the State’s rent relief program, of the $490 million in relief requests the state has received from applicants in the state’s rental assistance program, only $32 million has been distributed. That is a failure of government and we must correct it.
We have a responsibility to ensure these funding sources reach the people who need it most. To help achieve this, I have advocated to our state leadership for improvements to the state rent relief program. I will continue to engage to have the program meet the needs of our tenants, homeowners, and small mom and pop landlords. In addition to working to improve the efficiency of the rent relief programs, I am committed to supporting the outreach efforts. My team will continue to provide rent relief information to our constituents through events, digital outreach and with community partners. And I am advocating for funding from the American Rescue Plan to the County’s StayHoused LA program that provides landlords and tenants with information on their rights and responsibilities.
I want to re-iterate that I am supporting the eviction moratorium extension with an amendment that thinks about how to avert an eviction that could ultimately trigger another foreclosure crisis. We must focus on the solutions that will eliminate the rent debt to support both tenants and property owners. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the board for long-term housing solutions for all residents.
To apply for the state rent relief for both tenants and landlords visit Housing is Key at https://housing.ca.gov/