Gray background with yellow letters Statewide Eviction Moratorium

The Statewide Eviction Moratorium was Extended with Rent Relief for Some.

 Today, Governor Newsom passed SB 91, a new measure to stop the wave of pandemic evictions and provide much-needed rent relief...for some. This law will keep a roof over the heads of tenants who are unable to pay their rent due to COVID-19 and it will provide debt relief to some low-income renters.

At the same time, it will allow other evictions to continue unabated and landlords to decide whether or not their tenants will receive debt forgiveness. In addition, it will not prioritize relief for mission-driven housing providers, whose ability to provide affordable homes has been threatened by the current economic crisis.

Thank you to each of you who called and emailed key legislators. While the bill does not reflect all the policies we had hoped for, your action helped keep the pressure on decision-makers to prevent mass evictions.  


So what does - and doesn’t -  this new law do?

  • SB 91 extends AB 3088 - the statewide moratorium on evictions for tenants who are unable to pay their rent due to COVID-19 - until June 30th. This critical extension ensures that families that are struggling financially, through no fault of their own, no longer face the threat of eviction on February 1.  However, SB 91 does not close the loopholes in AB 3088. This means that tenants can still be evicted for other reasons, including no-fault or Ellis Act evictions, which have been used by unscrupulous landlords to skirt the law and evict families during a deadly pandemic. Indeed, over 135 households in Contra Costa County have been evicted since March 2020 due to these loopholes. Moreover, SB 91 prevents local communities from passing non-payment eviction protections that are more responsive to local needs and more protective of local residents.
  • It establishes a rental assistance program with $1.5 billion from the federal government, which will be used to help low-income tenants pay down their rental debt. This program rightly prioritizes households that make less than 50% of the area median income and areas that have suffered the worst impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • It provides payment equal to 80% of the debt owed by a tenant and, in exchange, requires landlords to forgive all back owed rent. If landlords participate, this could be a powerful tool to stabilize tenants. However, landlords can refuse to participate. In that case, the tenant may receive a direct payment worth 25% of their rental debt, which will help them qualify for long-term eviction protections. That means that tenants are at the mercy of their landlords, who have the power to decide whether eligible families receive enough money to cover 100% of their debt or only enough to cover 25%.
  • Assuming that residents and owners of low-income housing apply for rental assistance, it will provide some financial relief to non-profit affordable housing providers. However, it does nothing to prioritize mission-driven non-profits and other vulnerable housing providers. Instead, it forces them to compete with corporate landlords who profit off the housing crisis for scarce financial resources.

We Still Need To Build Power

SB 91 was negotiated behind closed doors by Governor Newsom, Democratic leaders, and powerful real-estate industry lobbyists.

Despite having been the first to introduce legislation to address the eviction cliff (AB 15), and having worked tirelessly over the last year to provide effective solutions to the COVID-related housing crisis, tenant and affordable housing advocates were totally shut out of the negotiation process.

Image by Brooke Anderson, Survival Media Agency.  

Instead, SB 91 was presented to the Legislature at the last possible moment, leaving no time for debate or amendment. The message to the public was clear: take it or leave it! The pitfalls of this bill could have been avoided had our leaders been willing to engage transparently with those with lived experience on the ground, rather than just powerful interest groups with deep pockets.

This fight isn’t over. There may be opportunities to fix the pitfalls of SB 91. And local governments - including Oakland, Fremont, and Alameda and Contra Costa Counties - have received their own allocation of rental assistance money from the federal government, giving local leaders the chance to create smarter policies that respond to the needs of local residents and providers of affordable housing. Stay tuned for information on how rent relief from SB 91 will be enacted in your local community. We post updates on how to access local rent relief on our COVID-19 Get Support page.

We know that smart eviction moratoriums fought for and won at the local level have been the best tools to keep people housed during the pandemic. Listen to this report from KQED, which shows that Alameda County's eviction moratorium, one of the strongest in the country, has resulted in the lowest levels of physical evictions in the Bay Area since March 2020.

EBHO will continue to work with our allies at the local and state level to continue to advocate for the strongest possible eviction protections, full debt forgiveness for low-income renters, and targeted financial assistance for vulnerable landlords and mission-driven affordable housing providers. To engage in this work more deeply, consider joining one of our member committees.


Alex Werth, Policy Associate, East Bay Housing Organizations

Your donation to EBHO supports our ongoing work to win affordable homes rooted in just communities for low-income people in the East Bay. 

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Oakland, California 94607

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