Thousands of Californians in limbo as eviction protections end

Using June 23 data, PolicyLink, which looked at weekly state program data through Public Record Act requests, found more than 28,000 initial applicants and 57,000 people who submitted. a new request have not yet heard from the program. The housing department’s Ross said the data, although produced by the state, had “flaws in interpretation,” but declined to comment on specifics.
Horne LLP, a Mississippi-based accounting firm specializing in disaster relief, will receive a maximum of $278 million to distribute federal rent relief funds capped at $4.5 billion, according to a renewal of contract dated April 1 that CalMatters obtained through the Public Records Act. June 17. The Housing Department was unable to say how much the company had been paid to date.

State Assemblyman Buffy Wicks, Democrat of Oakland and co-author of the latest expansion, acknowledged that the program was “incredibly frustrating.” She said the state housing department assured her eligible claims would be paid.

“I think it’s no secret that he had challenges,” she said. “And while I am sensitive to some of the challenges that we have faced as a state government in dealing with a global pandemic that none of us anticipated, it is also our job as a government of work well, especially when you’re talking about essential social safety nets.

But there is a silver lining for tenant advocates. A key part of the now-expired law was the preemption of tougher local measures against evictions, many of which will now go into effect, including in Los Angeles County.

The state is facing at least two lawsuits over the program from tenant advocates, who say it has denied funding to eligible tenants and does not cover the amount of rental debt originally promised.

More than 135,000 people — nearly a third of all households — who applied for rent relief had their applications rejected as of June 17, according to data CalMatters obtained from the Housing Department through the law. on public records. This number has increased in recent weeks as the program winds down. The lawsuit, which cites the same set of data, says tenants receive little or no explanation for their refusals, making it difficult to challenge the final decision.

“Tenants are being threatened with eviction even as their landlords receive these giant checks and tenants eligible for assistance are denied these cryptic notices that don’t tell them why. It just doesn’t make sense,” said Madeline Howard, senior attorney at the Western Center on Law & Poverty, one of the groups suing the state over the program.

Ross of the Housing Department was unable to provide specific numbers on denials, but said about half of applicants are denied ineligibility: either they make too much money or they don’t. do not reside in a location covered by the state program, have requested a period of time outside of program guidelines, or have been unable to demonstrate their location or the impact of the pandemic on their capacity to pay the rent. The other half of denials were due to incomplete or inactive applications. He said an unknown number of claims were fraudulent or had been submitted multiple times.

He said tenants with incomplete applications are told which section they need to provide additional evidence, but are not limited to specific documents. He also said they were given instructions on how to contact their case managers for help.

Wicks said the state’s latest budget, approved this week, includes nearly $2 billion to repay the state for a line of credit opened earlier this year to pay tenants who submitted applications by March 31. March, although it does not include any new funds for rent. relief. The program covered rent for up to 18 months between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2022 for low-income tenants who were financially impacted by COVID-19.

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