Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday unveiled a proposal to put more money into the hands of millions of low-income Californians, as many struggle to pay rent and other bills while the pandemic drags on.
Newsom is also urging the extension of statewide eviction protections, which are set to expire at the end of January.
The proposal is part of the governor’s state budget, which is set to be released on Friday.
The plan, which Newsom is calling the Golden State Stimulus, would provide $600 to people who are earning less than $30,000 a year. The money would go to anyone who filed for the California Earned Income Tax Credit last year, and those eligible to file this year. Nearly 3.9 million Californians were eligible for the credit last year, Newsom's office says. The cost of the program is an estimated $2.4 billion.
Latino Community Foundation CEO Jacqueline Martinez Garcel, who joined Newsom and several lawmakers on a livestream of the announcement, said the assistance would go a long way in helping struggling families.
“This is how we ensure that families don't get left behind," she said, "to make sure that families have food on their table and we have a shelter over their heads."
Madeline Howard, senior attorney with the Western Center on Law and Poverty, also welcomed the idea of cash assistance as a support for renters.
“We need that; $600 is a start, but it’s really only a start," she said. "Six hundred dollars in California dollars — what is that, a week of rent?"
Renters in the state are currently protected from eviction if they can’t pay rent because they have lost income due to the pandemic, as long as they pay 25%. But those protections, which were put in place by the Legislature and governor in August, are set to expire at the end of January.
When the Legislature returns to session next week, it's set to consider bills that would extend protections for renters and provide relief to landlords who are also struggling from lost income. Assemblymember David Chiu, D-San Francisco, is co-author of Assembly Bill 15 and AB 16, which aim to extend the eviction protections for the rest of the year.
“California’s 17 million renters are staring down an eviction cliff. It is imperative that the Legislature and the administration step in to keep people housed. A meaningful extension of eviction protections is crucial to stopping any additional COVID spread,” Chiu said.
Newsom did not specify on Wednesday how long he thought the eviction protections should be extended.