Newsom calls for more people to join rental relief efforts | #speeddating | #tinder | #pof | #blackpeoplemeet


Gov. Gavin Newsom Wednesday laid out enhanced efforts to speed up rental assistance to reeling landlords and tenants, urging a quicker turnaround for aid requests and encouraging more participation in the $7.2 billion program.

Relief efforts launched in March by the state and large cities have been hampered by complex applications, slow processing and complicated rules and regulations. The state last month extended an eviction moratorium through Sept. 30, hoping to stem widespread displacement of tenants unable to make payments during the economic hardships of the pandemic.

Newsom said at an appearance in Los Angeles Wednesday morning the state has improved the aid process. More than $1 billion has been requested from the state by nearly 109,000 tenant and landlord applications. But only a fraction of the total — $158 million — has been paid out, according to state data, leaving many in limbo.

Newsom said the state has improved its website, Housing is Key, and added more community partners to reach poor and immigrant communities. He cautioned the risks from the virus and economic upheaval remain throughout the state. “This has been an incredibly challenging 15 months and we’re not out of the woods,” he said. “COVID is not taking the summer off. It’s not behind us.”

The governor also urged unvaccinated residents to get shots as the Delta variant of the virus has begun to sweep through unprotected communities. About 40% of the new cases state officials have tested are the new, more contagious viral strain, he said.

The economic battering from the pandemic continues. State unemployment levels are twice pre-pandemic levels, with low-income workers in service jobs taking the brunt of the pain. Bay Area rents fell as much as 25% during the last year, but have recently creeped back toward early 2020 prices.

The patchwork of programs administered by the state and large cities reimburses eligible landlords for unpaid rent from low- income tenants dating back to April 2020. The $7.2 billion effort includes $5.2 billion in federal relief aimed at lower income tenants. The state has promised landlords full reimbursement for rent missed due to COVID hardship, and $2 billion in supplemental state funds to cover unpaid utility bills.

Officials at the state Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency are aiming to send funds out within 30 days of receiving a completed request — a standard many landlords and tenants say was not met for early applications.


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