The economic fallout from the pandemic has made it difficult for thousands of Californians to keep a roof over their heads. Early on, federal funding provided some assistance to renters and landlords alike, but many were unable to access that aid. More needed to be done.
That’s why I joined my colleagues to pass Senate Bill 91 (SB 91), bipartisan legislation that was signed into law by Governor Newsom. The bill, which became effective February 1st, provides assistance to qualified landlords and their tenants for up to 80 percent of unpaid rent that has accumulated since the pandemic began. It also extends the current eviction moratorium through March, subject to extensions that are likely to be approved by Congress.
Tenants most at-risk will be targeted, and landlords who agree to waive 20 percent of unpaid rent will become eligible for 80 percent reimbursements for unpaid rent that accrued between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021. $2.6 billion in federal funds will pay for the program, and additional federal funding will also help cover unpaid rent through June of this year.
For the past year, preventing evictions and homelessness for millions of California tenants has been imperative, but landlords were often left holding the bag. Many landlords rely on rents collected from tenants as their primary, perhaps only source of income. According to Debra Carlton, Executive Vice President of State Public Affairs for the California Apartment Association: “Getting dollars to landlords is imperative. Many landlords have not received rent in over a year, and some owners are on the brink of losing their homes.”
SB 91 is not perfect, but it should help landlords and tenants as they try to survive the disastrous economic fallout from COVID-19.