Volunteers with the Los Angeles Tenants Union outside of the home of a person who received an eviction notice in East Hollywood in August.Credit…Caroline Brehman/EPA, via Shutterstock
Perhaps it’s a sign that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is behind us, or that it’s stretched on far longer than we ever expected, but two key pandemic-related safety net programs are soon coming to a close.
Starting Friday, the first day of October, Californians will no longer be guaranteed up to two extra weeks of paid sick leave for Covid-19 illnesses, and, for the first time in more than a year, landlords will be able to kick tenants out for not paying their rent.
Many low-income workers are angered by the termination of these programs, especially just weeks after 2.2 million Californians lost enhanced unemployment benefits. But it doesn’t seem likely the safeguards will be extended.
For renters, however, other kinds of financial aid are available — and they may be far more helpful than any assistance thus far.
If you need rent relief
First, it’s important to note that though the state’s eviction moratorium is expiring on Sept. 30, some places in California have local laws that will continue to prevent landlords from evicting tenants.
Those include Fresno County, Alameda County, Solano County as well as the cities of Berkeley and Oakland. Your town might have a similar protection.
But no matter where you live, people who meet income requirements can take advantage of a state program that offers to pay 100 percent of back rent accrued during the pandemic as well as unpaid water and electricity bills.
If that sounds as if it would cost a huge amount of money, that’s because it does. The $7.2 billion California has made available amounts to the most expansive rent forgiveness program in United States history.
There’s no deadline to apply, and the state will continue to dole out funds until they run out. Californians can get up to 18 months in back rent covered.
“Apply as soon as possible, but no one should fear that the rent relief program is going away any time soon,” Gustavo Velasquez, director of the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development, told The Los Angeles Times.
To qualify for the rental assistance, you must have been somehow financially harmed by the pandemic — though no proof is required — and your income must be below 80 percent of the annual median income in your region.
For Los Angeles, San Diego and San Jose — the state’s three biggest cities — a family of four would qualify if they made below $94,600, $97,000 and $117,750, respectively.
You can browse those income limits here and apply for rental assistance here.
The state’s program, made possible in part by our unexpected budget surplus, could theoretically cover unpaid rent for every Californian.
According to an analysis from PolicyLink and U.S.C. Equity Research Institute, 14 percent of California households owe back rent, which amounts to a total of $2.5 billion in rent debt.
That’s less than half of the funds the state has available.
San Diego leaders are working on additional eviction protections, reports NBC San Diego.
A federal program aimed at halting evictions is showing signs of improvement.
If you read one story, make it this
Veterinarians and farmers are struggling with surging demand for a deworming medicine that some Americans falsely believe treats Covid-19.
The rest of the news
Satellites: The Pentagon’s spacecraft have repeatedly proven themselves to be superior at spotting blazes. So why don’t more firefighters have them?
Instagram for children: Facebook said on Monday that it had paused development of an Instagram Kids service that would be tailored for children 13 years old or younger.
Ballots by mail: Under a new bill signed on Monday, a ballot will be mailed to every registered California voter in future elections. Voters will still have the option to send in their ballot or vote in person, according to The Associated Press.
Ohio travel ban: Ohio’s new state law that allows doctors to decline services based on moral or religious grounds has caused a 2016 California law to take effect. Under this law, state-funded travel to Ohio will be prohibited, The Sacramento Bee reports.
Rapid tests: Californians seeking same-day Covid-19 tests for sick children or infection scares are finding empty shelves and long delays, CalMatters reports.
Garment industry rules: Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday approved a law requiring the garment industry to pay workers by the hour instead of for each piece of clothing they produce, reports The Associated Press.
Hospital staffing shortages: As a statewide vaccination mandate for hospital employees takes effect this week, there is a looming fear that people will choose to quit rather than be vaccinated, according to The Associated Press.
Spike in homicides: There were 351 murders last year in Los Angeles, versus 258 in 2019 — a reflection of a nationwide jump in murders in 2020.
Recall election in Riverside: Recently posted results from the governor recall election showed that a majority of Riverside County voted to recall Newsom, according to The Press-Enterprise.
Vaccine mandate vote: The San Diego Unified School District will vote today on whether to require Covid-19 vaccination for students over 12, NBC San Diego reports.
Students in Afghanistan: Almost 50 students from the Sacramento area are trapped in Afghanistan, a number that has risen as school districts continue to identify students and their whereabouts, The Sacramento Bee reports.
Wildfires: Firefighters are still working to contain the Windy fire, the K.N.P. complex fire and the Fawn fire, which are encroaching on ancient sequoia forests, according to The Associated Press.
Cabins for homeless: San Francisco is building tiny cabins for homeless people, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Bike paths: This interactive map created by The San Francisco Chronicle shows how the city’s bike paths are being remade in the pandemic.
What we’re eating
The Michelin inspectors have added eight restaurants to their selections in San Diego and Orange Counties.
What you get
See $4 million homes in San Juan Capistrano, San Francisco and Mill Valley.
Where we’re traveling
Today’s travel tip comes from Howard Hian, who recommends Chico:
Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to [email protected] We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.
What we’re recommending
The Times’s gripping new Britney Spears documentary.
And before you go, some good news
A couple fell in love after finding common ground in the South, South India and San Francisco.
Read about their recent wedding in The Times.
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya
P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Plump up, as a pillow (5 letters).
Mariel Wamsley contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].