By Aldon Thomas Stiles, California Black Media

Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed into law Assembly Bill (AB) 832, which updates California’s eviction moratorium rules and extends it.

“California is coming roaring back from the pandemic, but the economic impacts of COVID-19 continue to disproportionately impact so many low-income Californians, tenants and small landlords alike,” Newsom said last week after reaching a deal on the moratorium with lawmakers.

The governor said the agreement he reached with the Legislature also gives the state more time to provide the over $5 billion in federal rent relief funds for eligible tenants and landlords.

According to a spokesperson with the Business Consumer Services and Housing Agency (BCSH), over 85,907 Californians have submitted rent relief applications to the state-run program and 37,189 of them are already being processed as of June 22.

15.79% of those applicants are identified as Black or African American.

According to the BCSH, $660 million in rental assistance has been requested and the state has paid a total of $61.6 million in back rent so far through the program.

“Our housing situation in California was a crisis before COVID, and the pandemic has only made it worse — this extension is key to making sure that more people don’t lose the safety net helping them keep their home. While our state may be emerging from the pandemic, in many ways, the

lingering financial impact still weighs heavily on California families,” Senate President pro Tem Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) stated. “People are trying to find jobs and make ends meet and one of the greatest needs is to extend the eviction moratorium—which includes maximizing the federal funds available to help the most tenants and landlords possible—so that they can count on a roof over their heads while their finances rebound.”

AB 832 also prioritizes cities and counties with “unmet needs.”

Kendra Lewis, executive director of the Sacramento Housing Alliance, said the law will benefit families impacted by the pandemic that are still struggling.

“The pandemic showed us all how unequal housing is and how many renters are vulnerable,” Lewis said. “We need to do a better job at outreach and education because if you’re in a vulnerable community, or any situation regardless of your race or whatever, and the government has a program where it’s going to help you pay your rent, there’s going to be some apprehension.”

Lewis praised the eviction moratorium extension, claiming that many families will benefit from it.

“Imagine being in a vulnerable community, worried about losing your job or you’re a frontline worker with kids at home. The last thing you need is to be evicted,” Lewis said.

How Tenants Will Benefit From AB 832

· Allows a tenant to receive full amount due if the landlord doesn’t participate in the program so that they are not carrying it as consumer debt.

· Permanently masks COVID rental debt civil cases, thus protecting tenants from having these cases impact their consumer credit.

· Extends current eviction moratorium.

How Landlords Will Benefit From AB 832

· Increases rental assistance payments to give 100% of rent owed for eligible landlords and tenants.

· Allows a longer timeframe for rental assistance funds, so more unpaid rent can be covered.

· Authorizes rental assistance payments to be provided to landlords in situations where the tenant has moved out and now lives in a new place, but still owes rent payments to their prior landlord.

· Requires a tenant to fill out the necessary paperwork for the rental assistance program within 15 business days of receiving notice of their landlord filling out its portion when a three-day eviction notice has been served.

· These eviction protections do not apply to new tenancies beginning on or after October 1, 2021.