California Democrats want to give tenants who’ve lost their jobs or had wages cut during the coronavirus outbreak a decade to repay late rent.
The proposal is part of a broader strategy a handful of Senate Democrats announced Tuesday as a way to keep California afloat in the recession caused by COVID-19. It complements a separate proposal in the Assembly that would give mortgage relief for homeowners struggling with payments and another bill that would suspend evictions.
The rent stabilization proposal, said Sen. Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, would use state funds to purchase outstanding rents from tenants. They’d then have 10 years beginning in 2024 to repay the debt, interest free. Repayment plans would hinge on a tenant’s ability to pay and continued hardship can lead to full forgiveness.
Landlords would then receive a tax credit during the same time period to cover financial losses, depending on their commitment not to evict renters. They could also sell their credits.
Bradford said the rent assistance is not a “free ride.” But, he added, the assistance will help the estimated 2.3 million renting households affected by the COVID-19 economy.
“The last thing we want to do is increase our homeless population,” Bradford said. The assistance is “not for large corporate landlords,” he added, but for “mom and pop” property owners.
The recouped payments will fund “most” of the costs of the tax credits for the landlords, Bradford said, through “maximum flexibility” that keeps vulnerable Californians at the center of the state’s economic recovery plan.
Tom Bannon, CEO for the California Apartment Association, said the organization would work to “refine” the proposal with the Senate.
“During these unprecedented times, we appreciate the Senate Pro Tem’s creative effort to help tenants and rental property owners,” said Tom Bannon, chief executive officer for the association. “The California Apartment Association is committed to working with the Senate to refine this voluntary program to ensure tenants can stay in their homes and rental property owners – especially mom and pop owners – are able to continue to pay their bills and their employees.”
Separately, an Assembly proposal, written by Democrat Monique Limón, D-Santa Barbara, would allow financially burdened Californians for 180 days to seek relief from loans and mortgage payments. Another lawmaker has introduced a measure to place a temporary moratorium on evictions and foreclosure.