Hundreds of activists urge Governor Newsom to expand SB91
A total of 675 leaders from across California met on June 3 on Zoom to urge California Governor Gavin Newsom to expand and expand Senate Bill 91.
SB91, which came into effect in January, was a follow-up to the moratorium on evictions of Assembly Bill 3088. He also described a state rent assistance program, including changes such as a ban on considering Covid-19 rental debt as a negative factor for potential tenants.
But the bill is set to expire on June 30, and while discussions are underway to extend it, few details have been made public. This prompted the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), a network of faith-based and community organizations, to host the June 3 meeting.
Hundreds of people and representatives from various California IAF organizations attended, including the local organization Communities Organized for Relational Power in Action (COPA).
Participants called for improvements to the bill, including extending the moratorium until the end of 2021, expanding eligibility and more flexibility in distribution.
“These actions are essential to prevent our families from venturing into the overwhelming crisis of homelessness,” said Raymon Cancino, CEO of Community Bridges and COPA organizer.
Cancino reminded everyone present that the state budget is due on June 15 – less than a week after this article was published – and therefore action is needed as soon as possible.
California Assembly Member Miguel Santiago briefly joined the meeting, showing his support and outlining what needs to be done to get things done. Santiago explained that an entirely new bill cannot be created; this would require an “emergency clause” and a number of votes which currently cannot be met.
Instead, organizers should consider end-of-budget bills, measures that accompany state budgets, theoretically enacting changes to the law.
“We are eager to do [this] once again so that families are not left behind, ”Santiago said. “But I will say that we will need strong partnerships from you, because I think this time is more of a challenge.”
Assembly Member David Chiu told the meeting that discussions were underway between Newsom, Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate Speaker Pro-Tem Toni Atkins. But it is not known where these conversations are, he said.
“We still haven’t finished the details,” Chiu said. “There needs to be legislative changes… so that we can extend the protections, change the rules and hopefully tighten up all the problems we’ve seen in the last few months. “
The California IAF issued an additional statement on Tuesday further urging Newsom and state lawmakers to extend the moratorium without preemption. Local COPA leader Mayra Bernabe said she heard rumors of a 60-day extension that included a pre-emption barring local governments from acting to extend their own moratoria.
“If the extension is less than 6 months, we want to be sure that it gives local governments the flexibility to adopt additional protective measures,” said Bernabe.
COPA leaders met on Tuesday evening to email and phone banking to state officials. Bernabe said they also wanted to pressure the Santa Cruz County Supervisory Board to consider a local extension as well, which other counties and cities have already done.
“We already have a big homelessness crisis in Santa Cruz County,” she said. “If it doesn’t last longer… we can expect a wave, a homeless tsunami. There are many who are on the brink or who will soon be kicked out. We are trying to face this and prevent it.
Bernabe added that thousands of households in the county are currently behind on their rent. Many paid rent, but had to borrow money, take out loans, and use their credit cards to the max, disregarding the months ahead.
“A lot of families are so scared that they just count the days until they are on the streets. And this is unacceptable, ”she said.
At the June 3 meeting, Carolyn Winston, an IAF leader and member of St. Brigid’s Catholic Church in Los Angeles, urged people to contact their lawmakers before the June 15 budget deadline.
“The window is closing, but we have the opportunity to take action to influence legislative decisions,” Winston said. “Our actions influence their decision-making. Together we can make change.