To the editor: Gov. Gavin Newsom's announcement of $5 billion to help cover 100% of rent debt is a huge blessing to tenants like me and thousands of others who have suffered job and income loss. ("Newsom proposes additional $600 stimulus checks and $5 billion toward rental assistance," May 10)
Now, the governor needs to follow President Biden's lead and let tenants access these funds even if their landlords do not participate in the state's relief program. Otherwise, a program that keeps only some renters housed will harm California's long-term recovery.
In my work as a tenant activist with Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment and co-founder of the Baldwin-Leimert Crenshaw Local of the L.A. Tenants Union, I can tell you the countless stories I've come across of renters whose landlords have harassed them and won't take the government help offered to them because they've wanted to evict tenants anyway.
For this relief to be effective, the governor must also extend the eviction moratorium beyond June 30 to give renters time to apply for and receive the relief. Groups on the ground need the time to do outreach to vulnerable tenants to let them know these funds are available and how to access them, so landlords can't evict them before they get help.
Zerita Jones, Los Angeles
To the editor: I read with great interest about Newsom's brilliant plan to purchase votes in the coming recall election by using our surplus money to send out stimulus checks. He will be paying $600 to tax filers in households earning less than $75,000, plus more for people with kids.
Really? Aren't there better things in California on which to spend our surplus? Why not invest it and serve up a tax break? After all, everyone is going to be paying for this.
Of course, voters won't have a warm and fuzzy feeling for the governor when the recall comes if the surplus is actually used for something our state might really need.
Politicians in ancient Rome did the same thing in their day. However, at least they were more subtle about it. Everyone ready for the coming bread and circuses?
Thomas Meleck, Los Angeles
To the editor: Instead of passing out $600 stimulus checks to millions of Californians, would it not serve the state and its people more if the discretionary portion of the surplus were used for infrastructure repair?
California has roads, bridges, dams, parks and public buildings that are in disrepair. Infrastructure repair would create tens of thousands of needed new jobs.
This would be more of an overall benefit to all Californians than passing out millions of $600 checks.
Ernest Salomon, Santa Barbara
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.