Sen. Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) 

Sen. Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) introduced a bill, SB 1410, that would provide temporary financial assistance to California renters. The state will step in and make direct payments to landlords for as much as 80% of unpaid rent for tenants across the state — that’s if their nonpayment is “attributable to the pandemic.” 

If passed, SB 1410 would charge the California Deparment of Housing and Community Development with administering the program, and it will cover up to seven months of unpaid rental payments. 

“COVID-19 has immensely affected our economy, put pressure on both tenants and property owners to fulfill their payment obligations, and has exacerbated the need to keep people housed during an existing housing crisis,” said Gonzalez of her bill, which is co-sponsored by Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach). 

Under the proposal, landlords allowed to participate would have to agree to a few conditions. They would have to not make any rent increases for a specified period; not tack any fees to money due for past rents; not pursue any remaining rent owed for the months the program covers. 

“In order to protect our broader housing economy, SB 1410, an urgency measure, will not only provide much-needed immediate assistance to both tenants and property owners but also protect our most vulnerable communities,” Gonzalez explained. 

The California Apartment Association, which represents rental property owners all across the state, is sponsoring the legislation. For now, the group has asked its affiliates to work out payment arrangements with tenants who fall behind on their rents. 

SB 1410 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Housing. Hearings are scheduled for May 26 and May 27.