California officials have announced new eviction protections that tenants groups warn could leave many vulnerable to displacement during the pandemic.
Days before existing regulations are set to expire, leaving millions at risk of eviction, governor Gavin Newsom unveiled a plan this afternoon that he said was the result of negotiations between landlord and tenant advocate groups. The compromise legislation (full text here) states that:
- Tenants who can’t pay rent due to Covid-related financial hardships would be protected from evictions through January, but only if they pay 25% of their rent between September and January.
- Tenants still owe the rent they couldn’t pay between March and August, but landlords cannot evict them for those debts (though they could take them to small claims court).
- Landlords have to give tenants a 15-day notice before the eviction process begins in court.
Tenant and housing rights groups have criticized the plan, saying it does not go far enough to protect renters and could displace thousands as the courts begin to resume eviction cases next week. Loopholes in the existing protections have already allowed more than 1,600 evictions during the pandemic, according to one analysis, and activists fear it could get much worse under this plan.
Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, a tenant rights group, argued that the 25% requirement could be difficult for renters in California who have spent months out of work and have struggled to get aid and unemployment. Some activists say the plan unfairly places the burden on tenants to defend themselves in court.
The California Apartment Association, a key landlord group, praised the plan, arguing that it would allow renters who can’t pay while allowing landlords to “terminate the tenancies of renters who have the wherewithal to pay rent but refuse to do so”.
State lawmakers still have to approve Newsom’s bill before it goes into effect. For more on the crisis:
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Food And Drug Administration commissioner Stephen Hahn has removed his top spokeswoman after just 11 days on the job, the New York Times reports.
Emily Miller is a former aide to the Texas senator Ted Cruz and a former journalist for One America News, Donald Trump’s favourite Fox News alternative on the extreme right of the political spectrum.
She was installed at the FDA by the Trump administration but has now left it, after a typically Trumpian farce last weekend, over the decision to authorise the use of convalescent plasma as an emergency treatment for the coronavirus.
“Ms Miller’s removal,” the Times reports, “came one day after the FDA’s parent agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, terminated the contract of a public relations consultant who had advised Dr Hahn to correct misleading comments about the benefits of blood plasma for Covid-19.”
Trump and his allies said the “deep state” was making the FDA go slow on vaccines and therapeutics for the coronavirus, which has killed anywhere between 180,000 and 200,000-plus Americans depending on which count you use.
To repeat: Steve Bannon, a former close Trump aide and key propagator of the deep state conspiracy theory, has said both that it isn’t true and that it is “for nut cases”.