There are no signs yet of another federal stimulus check, but a few states are continuing to send out stimulus payments in one way or another. California, which has already proposed giving out a one-time $600 coronavirus stimulus check, is now working on a rent forgiveness program to help low-income families.
Coronavirus stimulus check but as rent forgiveness program
As per a report from Los Angeles Times, Governor Gavin Newsom and local lawmakers have reached an agreement not only to extend eviction protections, but also pay 100% of the unpaid rent of low-income residents of the state. The program, if approved, will cover all the “unpaid rent for lower-income Californians who struggled during the pandemic,” Newsom said in a tweet.
This rent forgiveness plan will cost about $5.2 billion, which according to Newsom, is the “largest rent relief" ever in America. Though local lawmakers have approved this program, it still needs to pass the California Assembly and Senate.
"This is the largest rent relief package America has ever seen. California is ROARING back—and leaving no one behind," read a tweet from Newsom.
California’s new program comes as the current eviction protection is set to expire this week. The new plan, if approved, would extend the evictions through September. Along with rent forgiveness and eviction, the state government is also considering spending about $2 billion more to cover unpaid water and electricity bills for low-income Californians.
Other stimulus payments from California
Newsom came up with a similar package earlier this year as well. At the time, the lawmakers approved a package totaling $2.6 million. The package provided rental assistance for low-income tenants provided they pay a minimum of 25% of the rent.
Additionally, California’s Golden State Stimulus package costing about $12 billion, proposed giving a $600 one-time stimulus payment, along with $500 per dependent, to Californians with income less than $75,000 annually (less than $150,000 for married couples filing jointly). The stimulus payment will also go to the state’s undocumented immigrants.
Such state sponsored programs are the result of better than expected economic recovery and funds that the states got from the federal stimulus packages. In California, larger-than-expected tax receipts, especially from tech executives and Hollywood stars, along with the state’s high taxes on high incomes, have boosted revenue for the state.
It is commendable that the state is now doing its best to use that money to help those struggling because of the pandemic.
It is not the first time someone has proposed a program to forgive rent. In April last year, Representative Ilhan Omar proposed similar legislation to cover unpaid rent during the pandemic. Americans also favor such programs. A survey by Data for Progress last spring found that 55% of Americans are in favor of canceling rent, as well as mortgage payments.