Cash to help California renters goes unspent with eviction protections expiring soon

SACRAMENTO — 

Months after the state approved $2.6 billion to help California tenants pay rent amid hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, advocates say a disappointingly low number of people have applied, as the program has been hampered by a slow start, confusion and bureaucratic red tape.

The problems have emerged as Gov. Gavin Newsom last week proposed to double the amount available for rent relief to $5.2 billion to pay 100% of back rent owed by many low-income tenants as well as rent for some future months.

Now, with state eviction protections expiring at the end of next month, and talks on additional action not yet yielding a proposal, housing advocates say the state needs to do a better job of helping low-income tenants get the rental assistance they need.

“The pace at which applications are being completed and relief is reaching tenants and landlords is highly concerning to legal services attorneys, community partners, and applicants around the state,” said Cynthia Castillo, a policy advocate for the Western Center on Law and Poverty.

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