California may become a ground zero for a homelessness crisis, as the end of the state’s temporary halt to evictions — which officially expired last Thursday — means renters in arrears face the prospect of being forced from their homes. Until September 30, state law automatically banned landlords from evicting people for unpaid rent. However, beginning Friday, tenants with unpaid rent can only be protected from evictions if they have applied for assistance. Tenants are still responsible for unpaid rent, but can’t be evicted for it if they meet this threshold.
As a result, Friday officially marked the countdown for the Golden State to insulate tenants against what one advocate called a looming “tsunami” of forced dislodging of renters, a microcosm of what indebted renters are facing nationwide after the Supreme Court invalidated a federal moratorium. California is scrambling to make sure tenants with unpaid rent know they can still stay in their homes after that date — but only if they have applied for assistance from the state, which has a total of $5.2 billion of federal dollars to help pay back rent owed by tenants who lost jobs or income. As of Monday, more than 309,000 households have applied for assistance, asking for nearly $3 billion.
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