Officials are approaching the critical deadline for negotiations regarding California’s eviction moratorium, with only a little more than a week left to figure out an alternative or approve an extension before residents are left with the threat of being kicked out of their homes.

California State Governor Gavin Newsom and other state lawmakers are still in discussions about the moratorium and have until January 31 to come up with a decision. If officials fail to agree on a solution, renters are at risk of being plunged into homelessness amid a devastating pandemic.

Eviction Moratorium

“Californians are staring down a very dark eviction cliff if we don’t extend the eviction moratorium,” Assemblyman David Chiu said. He was the one responsible for proposing the moratorium’s extension that would have lasted until 2020 ended.

There are anywhere between 240,000 to 700,000 households in the state that could be affected by the moratorium’s expiration. The numbers came from estimates of a collaboration between the Legislative Analyst’s Office and the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, and another by a study from the University of California, Berkeley.

Officials who were part of the discussions said they were optimistic that they could get a solution out before people are pushed out of their homes. However, many argue that a resolution would not be made until the very last day of negotiations. Newsom said earlier this month that he would continue to work on getting the deal done.

However, tenant groups worry that the negotiations are leaving them on the sidelines, with landlord groups arguing renters could potentially be left not meeting payments at all and officials finding ways to extend the moratorium again and again.

Negotiations have the majority agreement on June 30 as the deadline of the moratorium’s extension, as several groups are asking for it to be moved back to April 1 for renters who have not paid a single month’s fees since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. With time running short, Newsom has still not committed to a deadline for the next moratorium.

For lawmakers to cast a vote, a bill has to be printed at least 72 hours beforehand, cutting the time to come to an agreement even shorter. The reduced time also means lawmakers have until this weekend to iron out the disagreements regarding the moratorium extension.

The California Apartment Association has been trying to secure additional support for moderate-income tenants. Also, they are pushing for the moratorium to have an earlier expiration date for those who have not paid any rent since the start of the pandemic.

Assurance for Landlords

“Our demands are, we continue the consistent statewide [eviction moratorium] standard. Don’t create new standards that continue to encourage tenants not pay a portion of the rent. We continue to hear from landlords who have tenants who haven’t lost their jobs but who refuse to pay their rent,” the apartment association’s chief lobbyist, Debra Carlton, said.

Carlton said that the association also wanted to raise the burden of proof for people who claim to be financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Right now, you just check a box,” she said. The chief lobbyist said nearly half of California’s landlords are not eligible for the state’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.

“We’ve got to get money to landlords. We worry they are on the brink of foreclosure,” Carlton argued, CBS8 reported.

Many believe that Chiu’s proposal for an extension of the moratorium has little chance to be passed by lawmakers. This is due to it requiring two-thirds of the total votes to be passed as urgency legislation. However, as a budget trailer bill, the proposal has a much higher chance to pass since it would only need a majority vote.