'Gimme Shelter': The holes in California's COVID-19 eviction protections

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Demonstrators calling for lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom to pass rent forgiveness and stronger eviction protections legislation, gather in front of the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., on Monday, Jan. 25, 2021. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins announced a proposal that would extend pandemic eviction protections through the end of June and pay up to 80% of some tenants' unpaid rent as long as landlords agreed to forgive the remaining 20%. The proposal must still be approved by the state Legislature. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Demonstrators calling for lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom to pass rent forgiveness and stronger eviction protections legislation gather in front of the Capitol in Sacramento in January. (Rich Pedroncelli / AP)

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many have feared that a wave of evictions will devastate millions of renters — particularly low-income residents who have borne the brunt of the pandemic.

So far in California, that wave has been averted, thanks in part to new laws passed at the local, state and federal levels that aim to block evictions for those affected by the virus.

But those laws have significant gaps. By one estimate, nearly 10,000 households have been evicted statewide during the pandemic. Meanwhile, some landlords are owed tens of thousands of dollars in back rent, as their bills continue to pile up. And, despite the dire need, the state has struggled to allocate more than $5 billion in rental assistance for tenants and landlords.

On this episode of “Gimme Shelter: The California Housing Crisis Podcast,” we talk about the status of California's eviction protections, set to expire statewide Sept. 30, and how officials are trying to speed up the distribution of rental assistance dollars. Our guest is Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco), the chairman of the Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development and one of the top lawmakers involved in the eviction debates.

Gimme Shelter,”a biweekly podcast that looks at why it’s so expensive to live in California and what the state can do about it, features Liam Dillon, who covers housing affordability issues for the Los Angeles Times, and Manuela Tobias, housing reporter for CalMatters.

You can subscribe to “Gimme Shelter” on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Soundcloud, Google Podcasts and Overcast.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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