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The clock is ticking on rent relief in California

Tenants throughout California and the nation saw hope when the dream of rent relief became a reality following Congress’ approval of an initial $25 billion in rental assistance and followed up three months later with an extra $21.55 billion. It seemed to be a simple and universally accepted solution to a complex problem facing renters trying to stave off eviction while dealing with the financial impact of a worldwide pandemic.

Yet, in spite of more than $45 billion in funds, many tenants are still without the financial resources to cover their past-due, if not delinquent rent. Not to mention facing a potential and pending end to the federal moratorium that could result in countless evictions.

Obstacles created by bureaucracies

Not surprisingly, bureaucracies are slowing the process to a crawl at the federal, state, and local levels. The National Low Income Housing Coalition is balancing 340 different programs to provide an unprecedented amount of federal aid to renters. Never before has this amount of financial assistance been made available.

Yet, it seems to be evolving into a problem in search of a solution. Some tenants lack awareness of the program. Those who are aware facing the requirement of extensive documentation, creating a high burden of proof. Conversely, programs for landlords present significant challenges as well.

The federal moratorium will expire if Congress fails to extend it. To make matters worse, multiple judges are trying to end it before the deadline. That combination of factors while trying to get money to renters is measured in mere weeks. Few are confident that the funds will arrive in time.

Many renters are trying to fend for themselves, finding financial options where they can. For others, the proverbial clock continues to click down to formal eviction, making a bad situation much worse.