After unanimously passing the Senate, a CAA-sponsored bill that would offer financial relief to landlords deprived of COVID-19 emergency rental assistance has passed its first committee hearing in the state Assembly.
On Tuesday, SB 847 by Sen. Melissa Hurtado, D-Sanger, advanced from the Assembly Judiciary Committee with unanimous support. It next heads to the Housing and Community Development Committee.
Over the past two weeks, hundreds of CAA members have sent messages to the Assembly urging yes votes on Hurtado’s bill. During Tuesday’s hearing, Assemblywoman Eloise Gomez Reyes, D-San Bernardino, recognized the effort.
“Sen. Hurtado, I noticed all the letters in favor. Clearly you represent your community very well,” Gomez Reyes said.
“It’s clear that there’s a need for this. And I appreciate that you are bringing this forward. Landlords who followed all the rules, many of them did not get paid the rent that was due to them.”
SB 847 would provide state dollars to rental owners who’ve gone without rent and whose tenants either won’t cooperate in the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) application process or don’t qualify for the assistance.
Under California’s COVID-19 eviction moratorium, tenants who failed to pay their rent were protected from eviction if they claimed a pandemic-related financial hardship. Many landlords have since learned that their nonpaying tenants continued to work or otherwise earn an income during the pandemic and don’t qualify for rental aid.
Debra Carlton, CAA’s executive vice president of state public affairs, said a significant number of owners still haven’t been paid for the housing they provided during the pandemic.
“An internal survey of our small owners revealed that over $100 million in unpaid rent is still owed,” Carlton said. “This bill does target those small owners by allowing them to apply first for any funding that is available. SB 847 will assist those owners and even those tenants who may not have understood how to apply for funding.”
Should SB 847 become law, landlords will need to provide evidence that they applied for help through ERAP and did not receive funding or have a civil judgment against the tenant who has not paid, or both.
Assemblywoman Laurie Davies, R-Laguna Niguel, said the Legislature has helped renters and it’s important that it help housing providers as well.
“I’m really glad to see that we’re going to the other side,” Davies said. “It really has to be a full circle.”