California's Eviction Moratorium Ends On Thursday
NOEL KING, HOST:
Starting tomorrow, a moratorium on evictions ends in California. It was in place because of COVID, but now millions of tenants are wondering what's next for them. Here's Kate Wolffe from member station KQED.
KATE WOLFFE, BYLINE: After 18 months of protections, legislators say there isn't political will to extend the eviction moratorium, but people won't be kicked out right away. As the deadline approaches, California Governor Gavin Newsom points to a grace period in the expiring law for low-income tenants who apply for rental assistance.
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GAVIN NEWSOM: They are eviction protections that deny any court action through a period that extends through March 31 of 2022.
WOLFFE: However, according to census data from this month, over 900,000 Californians feel not at all confident that they will be able to pay rent this October. Lawrence Crawford and his wife, Vanessa, are among them. Before the pandemic, Vanessa worked in a salon, and Lawrence was a restaurant server. They've been struggling, too, with trying to get unemployment from the state.
LAWRENCE CRAWFORD: We're trying to feed ourselves. We're trying to, like, you know, take care of stuff. We're trying to work. But it costs money to do all these things. But, like, the unemployment's not there.
WOLFFE: The two live in downtown San Jose with their son. After months of struggling to pay their rent in piecemeal, they applied for the state's rent relief program this summer. But they haven't received anything, and rent is coming due.
CRAWFORD: We have to pay it by the 5, and I don't think we're going to have it. So they'll probably start the eviction process.
WOLFFE: In all, they owe $23,000 in back rent. Technically, since the Crawfords are still waiting for rent relief, they can't be evicted yet. California has only given out a small percentage of the $7.2 billion it set aside for aid. State and local governments have been extremely slow to distribute the funds, but a spokesperson with the state agency overseeing the process says it's speeding up.
Meanwhile, both renters and landlords are feeling the crunch. Debra Carlton with the California Apartment Association advocates for property owners. She says although landlords don't want to proceed with costly evictions, they might have to.
DEBRA CARLTON: The state and the local governments have been given plenty of time to figure out how to make this work. I mean, we're now into, you know, 18 months of many owners not getting any money.
WOLFFE: Carlton points out that landlords have mortgage payments, too, and more than half of them are mom-and-pop businesses. Despite assurances from the governor, come October 1, an uncertain future awaits both renters and landlords.
For NPR News, I'm Kate Wolffe in Oakland.
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