California debates extending eviction moratorium to pay off all past-due rent from pandemic

California legislators are reportedly considering extending the state's eviction moratorium to have enough time to pay off unpaid rent for low-income residents in the state as the June 30 moratorium deadline approaches.

As The Associated Press reports, it appears likely that the California state government will be extending its own eviction moratorium as well as absolving renters from their debts.

California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomBiden rolls dice by getting more aggressive on vaccines California Democrats warn of low turnout in recall election Western governors ask Biden for aid on wildfires MORE expressed his intentions to set aside $7.2 billion to cover unpaid rent for low-income tenants in May, The Sacramento Bee reported. This action would expand on a relief package Newsom signed earlier this year that offered to relieve tenants of 80 percent of their rent while requiring landlords to forgive the remainder.

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“We recognize the acuity of stress associated with back rent, and we recognize the acuity of stress as it relates to gas, water and electric bills,” Newsom said at the time.

“We think it’s really important to send a powerful message today about the importance of being able to find relief and access these critical funds so we can keep people housed, we can keep people warm, safe and make sure they are getting the kinds of resources they deserve during this very challenging period of time," he added.

In February, President BidenJoe BidenThe Supreme Court and blind partisanship ended the illusion of independent agencies Missed debt ceiling deadline kicks off high-stakes fight Senate infrastructure talks spill over into rare Sunday session MORE extended the federal ban on evictions and foreclosures through the end of July, with California passing its own protections for which more people were eligible, the AP notes.

Tenants who spoke to the AP said that extending the moratorium was essential, as they would still be unable to pay rent if their debts are paid off.

“The expectation for people to be up and at ’em and ready to pay rent on July 1 is wholeheartedly unfair,” single mother Kelli Lloyd told the outlet. Lloyd, a housing crisis advocate, has been unable to find steady work since the pandemic began and said that although California has begun to reopen, work has not necessarily been easy to come by.

Jason Elliott, a senior housing and homelessness counselor for Newsom, said the $5.2 billion that California has received from multiple aid packages is more than enough to cover the unpaid rent in California, the AP reports.

The challenge right now is distributing the money and having the debts paid off before the moratorium ends and people begin to be evicted, the AP notes.