SAN DIEGO — Tens of thousands of California families unable to pay their rent due to COVID-19 could soon be facing eviction.
On Friday morning, the legal protections these renters have, essentially shielding them from eviction proceedings, will officially expire.
In the meantime, thousands of these Californians are still waiting on millions of dollars in rental relief promised by the state.
Those statewide eviction protections put in place for renters impacted by the pandemic are set to expire Friday morning, even though more than 80,000 households who applied for emergency assistance are still waiting for an answer on their applications.
"I just feel the state has failed us: they have failed us," said Imperial Beach resident, Patricia Mendoza, who is still waiting for $9,000 in rental assistance from the state.
The mother of two has already received an eviction lawsuit from her landlord.
"Honestly, my anxiety is going through the roof," she told CBS 8.
That anxiety which she feels is not only for herself, but for other renters in similar situations who are facing homelessness as they await assistance promised by the state.
"I pray, I pray to God that they'll do something for this program, that they'll do something for our people, because this was supposed to help people...not have people like this," she cried.
According to the non-profit group PolicyLink, there are currently 85,901 renter households who applied for COVID rental assistance from the state who are still waiting for an answer.
"It is highly unlikely that they are going to be able to get through all of these applications by June 30, so that means people will be waiting in line and they will be exposed to eviction," said Sarah Treuhaft, vice-president of research for Policy Link. "They will likely be evicted or have eviction proceedings against them."
CBS 8 reached out to the state to see if the current eviction moratorium to protect applicant for COVID rent relief could possibly be extended beyond June 30, but has not yet received a response.
Several non-profits dedicated to protecting California renters, though, including the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), are not keeping quiet.
They have filed a lawsuit against the state to challenge more than 150,000 denials for rent relief, which is about one out of every three applicants.
"(This is) to challenge the practice of tenants not being told the reasons that they were denied, so that they can appeal, " said Jackie Zaneri, senior attorney for ACCE. "We are seeing tenants denied rental assistance for reasons that we can not figure out."
Mendoza, now working as a statewide organizer for ACCE, says she is dedicated to getting renters the help they need.
"I want to make sure this program does what it was supposed to do," Mendoza added, "and that's to help people stay in their homes!"
(Patricia Mendoza of ACCE can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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