State delays in disbursing federal housing assistance, tenant advocates say – Orange County Register
With California’s eviction ban set to end in just over a month, the state has been slow to put rent assistance money back into the hands of landlords, possibly leaving thousands of people in danger of eviction unless the ban is extended, according to a survey of tenants’ lawyers.
A report released Tuesday, May 25, indicates that only 0.5% of federal rent relief has been paid so far in California and that tenants and landlords face many hurdles in the application process.
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The Southern California News Group has asked for comments from housing officials on the accuracy of Tuesday’s report from the Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative and Housing Now, but has yet to receive a response.
California receives $ 2.6 billion from the federal stimulus bill passed in December, with an additional $ 2.2 billion from the US bailout passed in March.
State housing officials began receiving requests in mid-March to help tenants keep their homes by paying enough rent assistance to avoid evictions until June.
The report, based on a survey of 177 tenant advocates helping tenants with their claims, noted that 700,000 California households are behind on rent and that the state’s moratorium on evictions will expire on June 30.
“California is facing an epidemic of evictions,” the report said. “Lawmakers have only one month to correct SB 91, the law governing eviction protections and rent relief.”
Under the state program, tenants who pay 25% of their rent owed are protected against eviction. The rent relief program pays 80% of the rent arrears owed by low-income renters in the state if their landlord agrees to give up the rest. If the landlord does not agree, tenants are entitled to 25% of their rent debt.
The report says landlords continue to evict tenants or threaten eviction, despite the moratorium.
In addition to difficulty accessing the state’s web portal to submit applications, tenants face technological and language barriers in applying, difficulty documenting their loss of income, or difficulty communicating with their landlords. , according to the report.
A tenant, freelance writer Jaylynn Bailey of Pasadena, told an online press conference on Tuesday that it took him about two weeks to provide all the documentation needed for his candidacy.
Although her application has been approved and is awaiting approval from her landlord, her rent assistance has yet to be paid, she said.
The report calls for state lawmakers to strengthen and extend protections against state evictions “until the economy has fully bounced back for low-wage workers.” They also called on lawmakers to enact a law protecting tenants from negative credit reports caused by the pandemic, saying without these guarantees they will have a hard time securing housing in the future.