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California relief bill would allow tenants to make up late payments until 2034

The plan would allow the state to take over the unpaid rent in the form of tax credits, which homeowners can sell to investors for cash flow.

SACRAMENTO, Calif — In an effort to prevent evictions because of the on-going threat the coronavirus poses on the economy, a California bill plan proposes giving tenants up to 10 years to make up unpaid rent in landlord-renter agreements.

Here’s how it would work. The state would take over the unpaid rent in the form of tax credits, which homeowners can sell to investors for cash flow. Tenants would agree to repay in monthly installments starting 2024 — interest-free if paid on time.

The bill, which was introduced by Democrat State Senator Anna Caballero, does not have a cost estimate for the plan.

"The reality is that we do not have enough housing units of any type in California and cannot risk families losing their existing housing as they try to reenter the workforce," Caballero said in a statement.

The bill still needs to get through committee and both legislative houses.

Sassy Jackson, a Sacramento resident who said she has only been able to make partial rent payments after losing her job during the pandemic, said she’s hoping this bill passes.

"It's making me depressed, because I can't provide for my family like I need to," Jackson said.

As she looks for work, Jackson said she fears she'll be homeless again. If the bill were to pass, she said it would give her family “time to catch up and start over."

Nationwide, rent payments appear to have stabilized. At least according to the National Multifamily Housing Council, an organization of apartment owners and developers. The organization reported more than 89% of 11 million managed apartment units had made full and partial rent, which is nearly the same amount this time last year.

Researchers say eviction protection and unemployment benefits are helping.

“Once they are not there in August, it would be concerning about the rent tracker numbers,” said Caitlin Walter, the NMHC Vice President of Research.

Still, some warn of evictions for the most vulnerable, those like Jackson who are relying on state and local eviction moratoriums to keep a roof over their heads.

According to Apartment List, young, low-income city renters who can't work from home are among the hardest hit and most concerned about losing their homes.

For now, their saving grace, Sacramento's COVID-related eviction moratorium, is still in effect. Under the order, tenants have until November 25 to pay back rent before being evicted.

The statewide order runs through July 28.

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