Gov. Newsom urges swift distribution of federal rent relief

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Gov. Newsom urges swift distribution of federal rent relief

Categories: Essentials Planning Residents

Published 01/29/2021

Photo by Jorge Maya on Unsplash

On Wednesday, January 6th, 2021, Gov. Gavin Newsom pushed for the rapid distribution of $2.6 billion in federal rent relief headed to California from the latest COVID-19 economic stimulus package. Newsom’s office said the funds should help low-income Californians and small-scale landlords struggling financially from the pandemic.

Newsom also proposed a $2.4 billion Golden State Stimulus program that would send $600 to low-income Californians. Newsom also urged lawmakers to extend COVID-19 eviction protections set to expire at the end of this month before extending protections until June 30th, 2021, on Monday evening.

California is receiving about 10% of the $25 billion allocated for rental relief in the stimulus bill passed by Congress a month ago. Of California’s $2.6 billion portions, $1.4 billion will go to the state, while $1.2 billion heads to “entitlement districts,” which are jurisdictions with populations over 200,000.

Local governments will probably assume responsibility for distribution, as they did with CARES Act funding, and establish their application processes. Under the stimulus package, they will have until the end of this year to spend the money, although Newsom appears to favor a more aggressive timeline.

Before the vote in Congress, CAA members wrote to their representatives and senators, urging that the upcoming relief package include dollars to help tenants pay their rent — and landlords with tenants unable to pay because of the pandemic.

APPLYING AND QUALIFYING

The federal rent-relief program allows landlords to apply for help on behalf of their tenants, and applying will be up to the entities distributing the money. First, however, the landlord must get permission from the renter and gather information to establish eligibility. To qualify for aid, tenants must meet specific criteria related to income levels, hardships, and employment status. States and local governments can add their criteria on top of the standards provided by the feds.

Tenants who qualify for aid will use the funds to pay past-due rent and utility bills and upcoming rent and utility bills, with payments going directly to landlords and utility companies in most cases.

Besides dollars earmarked to help with rental payments, the stimulus package contains other aid that may help tenants cover their rent. For example, the package includes a one-time $600 deposit to individuals making less than $75,000 per year or $1,200 to couples who make less than $150,000 annually.

Families will receive an additional $600 per child, and these federal funds are separate from the $600 payments proposed by Newsom.

The federal package also furnishes an additional $300 per week in unemployment benefits through mid-March. The stimulus deal also resurrects the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses, although most landlords did not qualify for those funds in the summer.

For more information on this story, please visit the CAA website to read more.

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