AHF to Gov. Newsom and CA Legislature: ‘Extend Eviction Ban; Direct $5B for Relief’

Housing advocates urge Gov. Newsom and the California legislature to act immediately to extend a statewide eviction moratorium (AB 15) and direct $5 billion of the state’s $15.5 billion tax surplus for rent relief for low-income tenants as well as small landlords (AB 16)

Despite the medical, economic and humanitarian devastation the coronavirus pandemic has visited on Californians, the state legislature—where one in four legislators is also a landlord—has failed to enact any meaningful, long term legislative relief for renters and small landlords

LOS ANGELES--()--As the medical, humanitarian and economic devastation from California’s COVID-19 pandemic continues unabated, advocates with Housing Is A Human Right (HHR), the housing advocacy division of AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), and AHF are calling on California Governor Gavin Newsom to convene a special December session of the legislature to vote on an extension of the statewide pandemic eviction moratorium (AB 15) to the end of 2021.

The advocates will separately ask that Newsom and the legislature direct $5 billion of the estimated (and unanticipated) $15.5 billion California tax surplus collected in 2020 toward rent relief for low-income tenants as well as small mom and pop landlords impacted by the economic fallout of the pandemic (AB 16 Chiu, D- San Francisco). The Legislative Analyst’s Office initially estimated the surplus at $26 billion last month; however, Governor Newsom cited the $15.5 billion number during a technology industry trade group event this week, according to the L.A. Times. However, the Times also noted that “…the total windfall could be between $12 billion and $40 billion once final tax receipts are collected.”

The eviction moratorium, which was first put in place in March by executive order by Gov. Newsom and extended once by the legislature and the governor in August (AB 3088, Chiu, D-San Francisco), has been a lifeline for many of California’s 17 million renters affected by the pandemic. It is set to expire in February 2021, leaving hundreds of thousands of California renters suddenly at risk for eviction as soon as March 1st unless the government acts now.

Housing justice advocates insist that time is of the essence, noting that an extension needs to be passed by January 31, 2021—and with a two-thirds margin in both the senate and the assembly—in order to ensure there are no gaps in coverage or protections for vulnerable tenants. They also recognize the economic hardship both tenants and landlords, particularly smaller landlords, have faced during the crisis and want a portion of the tax surplus rainy-day fund directed to rental relief.

Rand Martin of MVM Strategy Group, AHF’s lobbyist in Sacramento, also wrote to the governor and key legislators on behalf of AHF and the housing justice advocates urging an extension of the eviction moratorium. He cited statistics from the US Census Bureau noting that:

  • 55% of California renters have lost employment income since the pandemic began.
  • As of August 2020, 14% of those renters (higher in urban areas) are behind on rental payments, a number that undoubtedly will skyrocket once the absence of federal stimulus and loss of federal relief is accounted for.
  • Even more dramatically impacted are renters of color; nearly 50% of Black renters and 15% of Latinx renters are behind on their rent as of November 23, 2020, compared to 7% of Non-Hispanic White renters.
  • The financial situation for small landlords is under even greater stress as 60% of renters who are behind in their rent reside in properties with 4 or fewer units.
  • Too many of our most vulnerable citizens, children, live in more than 560,000 households that are behind on rental payments.

Martin then implored the legislators:

“We urge the state to make a bold move on behalf of our most financially challenged Californians, those whose income is less than 80% of the average median income and dedicate at least $5 billion of the current surplus toward relief from rental debt for those least able to pay down their obligation. This commitment will help to keep many Californians in their homes and will help to strengthen the solvency of many small landlords.”

Lastly, the Los Angeles Times this week also editorialized in favor of relief for renters and small landlords battered by the pandemic in a piece headlined “Tenants Need a Rent Bail Out. Right Now.” The paper noted:

“Political leaders tend to wait until the crisis is imminent before they act. But it’s cruel and counterproductive to keep extending eviction moratoriums without addressing the inevitable rent due date. We know what lies on the other end of this long, hard winter. Lawmakers should act now to make sure rent debt doesn’t crush tenants and landlords.”

For more information, please visit www.housinghumanright.org.


Ged Kenslea, AHF Communications Dir., gedk@aidshealth.org, (323) 791-5526 cell

Release Summary

Gov. Newsom and CA Legislature: ‘Extend Eviction Ban, Direct $5B for Tenant/Landlord Relief,’ Says AHF


Ged Kenslea, AHF Communications Dir., gedk@aidshealth.org, (323) 791-5526 cell