We’ve been discussing the eventual eviction crisis resulting from government COVID mandates since early last year. Here we are in the summer of 2021 with vaccination rates nearing their targets and businesses trying to reopen around the country, and the eviction moratorium issue has still not been resolved. Out in California, Freedom Day has come and gone, so most people should be getting back to work, school and their other pre-pandemic routines. But the state is still looking at extending the eviction moratorium even further. A “solution” has been offered by Governor Gavin Newsom (more on that in a moment), but even with an alleged fix at hand, the moratorium may be pushed out past the current June 30 deadline. (KTLA)
Gov. Gavin Newsom says California will pay off all the past-due rent that accumulated in the nation’s most populated state because of the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, a promise to make landlords whole while giving renters a clean slate.
Left unsettled is whether California will continue to ban evictions for unpaid rent beyond June 30, a pandemic-related order that was meant to be temporary but is proving difficult to undo.
Federal eviction protections also are set to expire on June 30. California had passed its own protections that applied to more people.
So Gavin Newsom’s “solution” to the current imbalance is one that I predicted last summer we would be seeing. There will be blanket forgiveness offered, and everyone owing any amount of back rent from that entire period will have their rent paid by the government. Landlords will recover some of the money they are owed, but will be forbidden from evicting anyone who was behind. But activists from the “cancel rent” movement are saying that not everyone is ready to start paying again yet, so the moratorium should be extended. Landlords point out that even the small, mom-and-pop operations have properties where they are owed hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The first thing to note here is that Gavin Newsom’s state government will not be footing the bill for any of this generosity. The state is still sitting on billions of dollars in federal COVID relief that they haven’t figured out a way to spend yet. So they’ll just be giving all of that “free money” away to at least partially settle the books with the landlords. In other words, this eviction crisis was caused by a mad rush by the government (at all levels) to enact policies that created the problem without any foresight as to how it would end, and now the taxpayers of the country are being handed the bill.
Second, just as the promises and mandates were issued in a scattershot fashion, the repayments will come with no restrictions. We’ve already read numerous reports of tenants who stopped paying rent the moment the moratoriums went into effect though they were obviously still working full-time. Some of the ones we have covered here were already months behind on their rent before the pandemic was even discovered and still latched on to the gravy train to get a couple of years worth of free rent. I suppose you could argue that California is erring on the side of caution here, but we are once again seeing an ill-conceived plan affecting tens of millions of people being disposed of in the end with a shrug of the shoulders and an attitude of, oh well. The government can pay for it.
Of course, you (the taxpayers) are “the government” in that regard. And you’re getting stuck with the bill by a group of people who were more worried about being accused of “not doing enough” than they were about doing the right thing and performing their jobs competently.