About 89% of federal funding to prevent evictions has not been distributed to renters in need, according to The New York Times; however, this national trend is not as represented in Berkeley.
Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board commissioner Andy Kelley said California renters seeking assistance have not been greatly affected by the slow and limited distribution of federal funds.
“The delay in federal funding is not as severe in California. If you are a renter in need of assistance, it is provided immediately,” Kelley said. “In California, we are trying to make sure that tenants are protected so the 89% figure is definitely not a statewide figure.”
According to Lynn Wu, a staff attorney for the city of Berkeley’s Rent Stabilization Board, with smaller cities such as Berkeley, the federal funds for eviction prevention are given to states, then distributed by counties and other local jurisdictions. This means many Berkeley residents received this funding through Alameda County instead of directly from the federal government.
According to Kelley, state and federal funding have provided Alameda County with sufficient funds to provide relief to tenants. He added that it is important that tenants take advantage of this funding and get help.
“I think California was definitely more prepared than other states to distribute these funds, we were already distributing state funds and so most of what the federal fundings allowed California to do was accelerate our own efforts,” Kelley said.
According to Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín, Alameda County distributed federal funds to several nonprofits that provide rental services in the East Bay, and because those nonprofits have multiple funding sources they can continue to provide services despite delays in federal funding.
Additionally, the city of Berkeley and California have put eviction moratoriums in place which protect tenants from eviction, Arreguín said in an email. According to Kelley, these policies have resulted in no evictions in Berkeley due to nonpayment during the pandemic.
“Under the City’s eviction moratorium, a tenant can never be evicted for non-payment of rent during the local state of emergency, even if they are unable to pay back rent after the emergency ends,” Arreguín said in an email. “There are currently no plans to sunset the local state of emergency.”