Is Gavin REALLY Paying Off All Past-Due Rent? An Analysis

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Image: @GavinNewsom via Twitter

The California eviction moratorium is set to expire in just one week (though the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to extend it til December 31, but that only applies within the city and county of SF). It does look like California will extend the deadline out further, but details are scant, lawmakers are still negotiating, and goddamn people, it’s getting to be the 11th hour on that.  

Governor Gavin Newsom announced Monday a $5.2 billion program that would “pay off all the past-due rent that accumulated in the state because of the coronavirus pandemic,” in the words of NBC San Diego. The New York Times declared “California is planning rent forgiveness on a scale never seen before in the United States,” and ABC News claimed the bill would “pay all overdue rent for low-income tenants.”

Some of these phrases got our bullshit senses tingling, so we looked into these claims. And some of the bullshit is pretty basic. First, as CNN points out, Newsom “is pushing the state legislature to approve his plan,” so this is not a done deal. Further, the relief is not available to everyone. It’s only for people who make less than 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI). But in San Francisco, that’s $71,700 for a single unmarried person, so it’s fair to say that most people behind on their rent would qualify.

But the biggest bullshit factor at play here is that not everyone will get their rent forgiven. Supervisor Dean Preston has many criticisms of Newsom’s announcement in the thread above; that it’s federal money and not state money (But who gives a shit? As long as tenants are being helped), that the announcement actually came more than a month ago, (Again, who cares? As long as people are being helped), and most importantly, this is not going to forgive all of everyone’s back rent.

There is $5.2 billion in this proposed rent relief deal, and all of the unpaid rent in California is vastly more than that, so this relief will be like PPP loans — first come first serve, until the money runs out ahead of schedule. And it will be distributed so slowly it will not halt enough evictions. The Guardian notes that “of the $490 million in requests for rental assistance through 31 May, just $32 million had been paid.” The LA Times says that “under the current funding formula, L.A. will run out of rent relief early, leaving no financial assistance for 43% of renter households who have filed applications.”

So yes it is true that there will likely be $5.2 million in back rent relief, but no, not everyone will get all of their back rent paid. In fact, at best half of all people will get rent relief, so all these “Newsom will pay off all the past-due rent” claims are at best half-true.

It still doesn’t hurt to apply. You can apply for California rent relief here.

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Joe Kukura- Millionaire in Training

Joe Kukura- Millionaire in Training

Joe Kukura is a two-bit marketing writer who excels at the homoerotic double-entendre. He is training to run a full marathon completely drunk and high, and his work has appeared in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal on days when their editors made particularly curious decisions.