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Bay Area tenants owe nearly a billion dollars in rent

eviction moratorium victoria pickering.jpg
Victoria Pickering
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Flickr / Creative Commons
Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stand with an activists at a demonstration for rent relief outside the U.S. Capitol

After the March 31st deadline, state applications closed for more than $5 billion in emergency federal funding set aside to pay California landlords back for pandemic rent debt and keep tenants in their homes.

Last Thursday, the state approved AB2179 to further extend some eviction protections through June 30th.

The bill halted evictions for tenants who apply for emergency rental assistance as of midnight. Thursday. On top of tenants rushing to meet the application deadline, state reports show a long backlog; California has so far assisted less than half of the roughly half-million households that had applied for rent relief as of Tuesday.

Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis signed the new eviction bill because Gov. Gavin Newsom is on vacation with his family in Central and South America. Kounalakis is the first woman to sign legislation as acting governor.

Nearly more than 21-thousands tenants in San Francisco owed 198 million dollars in back rent – the second-highest amount in the Bay Area. Santa Clara County had the highest-number of tenants – 28-thousand, who owed nearly 300-million dollars. Alameda County was third, with about 30-thousand renters owing 150-million dollars.

The bill was opposed by several Bay Area lawmakers after concern about provisions to nullify stronger eviction bans recently enacted in cities including San Francisco and Los Angeles.

While landlord groups expressed frustration about another statewide extension of eviction protections, tenant advocates cast the deal as a part of an ongoing strategy to “bail out” landlords while sacrificing tenants still struggling to financially recover from the pandemic.