California plans to use pay back billions in rent missed by low-income tenants during the coronavirus pandemic, The New York Times reports.
The state plans to use its surprise budget surplus and stimulus money from the federal government to fund a $5.2 billion program that would pay 100% of unpaid rent missed by lower-income residents.
The state is also considering a separate $2 billion program to pay for missed water and electricity bills.
The program would be available to residents who earn up to 80% of the median income in their area and can show financial hardship caused by the pandemic.
The qualifications range wildly depending on the area. In San Francisco, for example, a family of four earning up to $146,350 would qualify.
California using budget surplus:
California is one of more than a dozen states that experienced a surprise budget surplus during the pandemic. The rent program is one of several touted by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has rolled out a $100 billion program to help with a range of issues in the state.
Some of the funds will go toward helping the homeless. Another $12 billion will be used to send $600 stimulus checks to most Californians.
It’s unclear whether the other 21 states facing a budget surplus will use their funds in similar ways.
What about the eviction moratorium?
It’s unclear whether California will extend its eviction moratorium, which is set to expire on June 30.
But state officials expect to extend the ban to allow more time to distribute the aid.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration is considering extending its federal eviction moratorium, which is also set to expire on June 30, by another month.
A federal judge in May ruled to end the moratorium but later agreed to delay the enforcement of the ruling while the administration appeals.
The administration is also looking to accelerate how quickly it can dole out the $21.5 billion in emergency rental assistance approved by Congress in March.