A statewide evictions moratorium was put in place this week. It has left some left wondering how and when people can expect some financial relief. 23ABC’s Austin Westfall talked with Bakersfield officials about what residents need to know.
Kern County already has a large need for housing and housing assistance in its communities. The pandemic has only exacerbated that problem. But there’s is a way people get some help.
It began this week when California Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation saying that if a tenant is facing a COVID-19 related hardship, they cannot be evicted from their home before February 21, 2021. In addition, under the new law tenants must pay at least 25 percent of their rent now through January 31, 2021.
Eventually, renters will be on the hook for the entire bill, because the remaining balance will convert to civil debt. But that debt may not be used as grounds for eviction.
But that’s not all the help that’s out there.
The city of Bakersfield is expected to announce details of a $5 million program next week that will work in tandem with the governor’s to provide residents with rental and mortgage assistance. The funds were allocated from the CARES Act.
The Bakersfield city manager’s office told 23ABC in a statement: “We are very excited to work with the Kern Housing Authority to finalize details of this program; and anticipate moving forward with an agreement for the September 9[th] city council meeting.”
Bakersfield isn’t the only city that’s imposed its own eviction protections. In March, Delano placed a moratorium on all evictions.
“Our moratorium wasn’t as extensive as this state law,” said Delano City Council member Bryan Osorio.
Osorio said that although the state’s law does a lot to protect Californians, like extending anti-foreclosure protections for small landlords, he wishes it had gone a bit easier on tenants.
“Some would argue that the more effective approach would be to freeze rent," added Osario. "I know that some of my colleagues have issues with that, as well as some landlords.”
Osorio said he is unsure whether the state’s new law would override Delano’s moratorium. He said the council will meet to discuss that.
Finally, the city of Bakersfield mentioned that they’ve given out $10 million in business loans from the CARES Act as well. On top of that, the city also allocated another $10 million toward affordable housing for the 2020-21 fiscal year.