Thousands of Californians face homelessness with eviction freeze set to end

Activists outside of San Francisco’s City Hall rallying for the #CancelRent movement
On May Day, activists congregated outside of San Francisco’s City Hall rallying for the #CancelRent movement amid a crippled economy that has displaced many.
(David Odisho)

Lifting the statewide eviction moratorium would disproportionately affect Black Californians


With the federal COVID-19 rent protections provided in the CARES Act about to expire, any plan to assist tenants who have fallen behind on their payments due the pandemic would have to be drawn up by state or local governments.

In California, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, chair of the Judicial Council, said during a public meeting on June 24, that the council would “very soon resume voting to terminate the temporary orders having to do with unlawful detainer evictions and foreclosures.”

The Judicial Council, which regulates the state’s court system, placed a temporary emergency rule on April 6, which stops judges from processing evictions for non-payment of rent during the COVID-19 state of emergency. If the court votes to terminate the rule, it would be rescinded effective Aug. 14.

Nisha Vyas, Senior Attorney at the Western Center on Law and Poverty, spoke at a press conference held by Ethnic Media Services. In her presentation she detailed some mechanics of the Judicial Council’s rules, and she explained how its rescission would hurt California renters.

“We’re extremely concerned about this, as the Legislature and Governor have not yet acted to put something in place that will prevent the massive wave of evictions that will begin when this rule is lifted,” Vyas told California Black Media over email.

“When the rule is withdrawn and the moratorium lapses, we expect this massive eviction crisis, and if we allow the evictions to simply start again without any long-term assistance, it’s going to have a devastating impact on renters, and in particular communities of color.”

Lifting the statewide eviction moratorium would disproportionately affect Black Californians. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Housing Survey, 64.4% of African Americans in California are tenants. Also, 57% of Black renters have lost income since mid-March this year, according to the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.

According to another U.S. Census Bureau Housing Pulse Survey conducted in June, only about 46% of Black renters in California were confident that they could pay July’s rent. The other 54% — which accounts for hundreds of thousands of African American households — have no to moderate confidence that they will be able to keep a roof over their heads.

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