A row of older apartment buildings on Oxford Street in North Berkeley. June 2, 2020. Photo: Pete Rosos

Californians facing eviction as soon as next week would get a temporary reprieve under a bill endorsed Thursday by the state Legislature’s Democratic leaders — and apparently by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins of San Diego and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon of Lakewood announced their support for a proposal that would extend eviction protections through June 30 for Californians applying for funds from the state’s COVID rent relief program. Atkins and Rendon said the bill will get its first hearing on Monday.

  • Under current law, statewide eviction protections are set to expire on April 1 — just one day after the March 31 deadline for residents to apply for state rent relief.
  • Although the new proposal keeps the March 31 application deadline in place, it protects Californians from eviction while they wait for the state to process their paperwork. As of Tuesday, the state had distributed funds to about 214,000 households — fewer than half of the nearly 490,000 that had applied for relief — prompting advocates to warn of an impending “eviction tsunami.”
  • A Newsom spokesperson told CalMatters housing reporter Manuela Tobias: “The Governor strongly supports an extension that continues to protect tenants well into the summer and ensures that every eligible applicant is protected under this nation-leading rent relief program as it winds down.”
  • The bill also prevents local governments from passing their own eviction protections until July 1 at the earliest — a major reason why the powerful California Apartment Association, which represents landlords, investors and developers — supports it, according to the Associated Press.

The last-minute proposal comes amid a flurry of reports that illuminate how the Golden State’s cost of living is becoming prohibitively high for a growing number of people.

  • Just 26% of households could afford a median-priced home in California last year — down from 28% in 2020 and 30% in 2019, CalMatters’ Alejandro Lazo reports. The divide was particularly stark for people of color: Fewer than one in five Black and Latino households could buy a median-priced home last year.
  • A record-high 46% of Californians told the Public Policy Institute of California that housing costs have caused them to seriously consider moving — mostly to another state.
  • New U.S. Census data shows that San Francisco County and San Mateo County saw the nation’s second- and fourth-largest decreases in population, respectively, from July 2020 to July 2021 as many residents searched for cheaper homes.
  • And a new Realtor.com report found that San Jose had the nation’s highest median rent in February: a whopping $3,024 per month.

In the face of such statistics, actions like the one Attorney General Rob Bonta took Thursday — putting the city of Encinitas on notice for denying a permit for an apartment building with affordable units — may seem like small potatoes.

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