SAN FRANCISCO -- Governor Gavin Newsom has signed a bill Friday providing rent relief for thousands of struggling Californians impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It will also extend the state's eviction moratorium another six months. But some tenant rights advocates fear it could leave some renters out in the cold.
Gov. Newsom says California will freeze evictions for struggling tenants impacted by COVID-19 for another five months. More than $2 billion in federal stimulus funds will help with rental assistance.
"We're going to leverage that $2.6 billion focusing on low-income renters," said Newsom.
The federal money can only be spent on households whose income is 80% or less of the area median income. It prioritizes relief for households at 50% or less of the median income and those unemployed for at least three months.
Under the new bill, the state will cover 80% of the rent you missed between April 2020 and March 2021 -- as long as the landlord forgives the remaining 20% and does not pursue evictions.
"We need to make sure folks are stably housed and folks aren't being evicted and going into long term debt based on a pandemic they have no control over," said San Francisco Assemblyman David Chiu.
Oakland renter and housing advocate Terra Thomas lost her job last year to the pandemic. She says landlords have the right to decline the rent relief program. Tenants could still apply for assistance under the bill but many families could suffer.
"Leaving the rent relief program in the landlords hands can lead to the most marginalized people being left out in the cold," said Thomas.
"We're going to monitor this aggressively," said Chiu.
Chiu doesn't want any families left out. He says the legislature may consider extending the moratorium again this summer.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.