California lawmakers will consider another expansion of the statewide eviction moratorium, protecting tenants through the end of 2021 as the economic hardships caused by the pandemic deepen for many families.

A bill introduced Monday by Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, would shut courts to most non-payment eviction hearings through Dec. 31, 2021 for renters struggling with job losses or illness. Renters will still be required to pay at least one-quarter of their rent to be covered by the protections. Other new bills are expected to provide aid for landlords and tenants.

“We are again staring down an eviction cliff that could leave millions homeless in the middle of a deadly pandemic,” Chiu said in a statement. “We must keep Californians housed and look towards providing relief to struggling renters and landlords.”

Tenant advocates have been encouraging wider protections, while landlords have been urging caution at further extensions. Many small landlords say they’re struggling to pay mortgages and maintenance on properties as tenants fall further behind on rent.

Debra Carlton, a lobbyist for the California Apartment Association, said the organization prefers a statewide approach to an eviction moratorium, but not necessarily an extension through next year. “We would prefer a more incremental approach,” Carlton said.

Chiu’s bill would extend the moratorium from Jan. 31 to Dec. 31 for tenants facing Covid-related hardships. Landlords would be able to sue to recover lost rent, but would not be able to evict tenants for non-payment as long as the renters paid one-quarter of their rent starting in September of this year.

Both sides have been calling for federal relief in the marketplace, saying only Congress can provide the size and scale of aid needed. A recent study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia estimated 1.3 million tenant households in the U.S. will have piled up $7.2 billion in unpaid rent this year.

Chiu also plans to introduce a measure to establish a framework on distributing rental assistance. Similar bills are expected to be introduced in the state senate. The emergency measures would need approval from two-thirds of the legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature to be enacted.

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By Kelley Wheeler

Kelley Wheeler is a Metro reporter covering political issues and general assignments. A second-generation journalist, worked with all major news outlet, she holds a vast expeirience. Kelley is a graduate of USC with degrees in journalism and English literature. She is a recipient of Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

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