The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a three-month extension of a countywide moratorium on evictions that could protect tens of thousands of residents from being evicted due to inability to pay their rent during the pandemic.

Renters will now be protected by the county moratorium through the end of September, with supervisors expressing hope that more people will be able to apply for assistance programs that can cover unpaid rent that was accrued during the pandemic. The motion was proposed by supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis.

However, supervisors said that this is likely to be the last time the moratorium will be accepted.

The vote comes one day after the Associated Press reported that Gov. Gavin Newsom was meeting privately with state legislative leaders to discuss a potential extension of a state ban on evictions for those who were unable to pay their rents during the past 15 months, with a potential for the state to cover the full debt rather than the 80% previously proposed.

“I know the state is contemplating some changes, but they’re not going to put them in tomorrow,” Kuehl said.

Supervisors took turns criticizing the slow rollout of the state’s program that has over $5.2 billion in available funds for local municipalities to distribute but has only given out just about $32 million to date, according to Supervisor Holly Mitchell.

Mitchell said that she wants to make sure that relief gets to tenants and landlords, both of whom have suffered financially during the pandemic.

“One thing is for certain that we must insist that the state expedite delivery of that program,” Mitchell said. “That should be our preferred strategy.”

An amendment from Supervisor Janice Hahn, who represents Long Beach, added a request for the county’s legal counsel to report back to the board in 30 days on the feasibility and impact of requiring tenants to document they’ve been affected financially by the pandemic, and to show a good faith effort to apply for rental assistance programs in order to have continued protection from eviction.

“I think this is balanced, it shows we’re protecting tenants but we’re also trying to look out for the landlords and the property owners,” Hahn said.

A second report from the county’s legal counsel is due in 60 days and will look at the feasibility of requiring landlords to apply for the same programs before taking legal action against tenants.

Long Beach has its own rent assistance program and extended the deadline to apply for it through July 11. Applicants have to be at or below 80% of the area median income, have one or more individuals who experienced financial hardship due to the pandemic and one or more persons in the household that can prove risk of housing instability.

The city’s program has over $51 million available for eligible tenants.

While the extension will provide a few more months of protection for most renters it could be the beginning of a phasing out of the moratorium. One protection that is being peeled back with Tuesday’s vote is the prohibition of property owners moving in family members to units occupied by other tenants.

Now property owners can move family members into units that are occupied by persons who were not financially affected by the pandemic if the person being replaced is similar in circumstances to the person moving in, meaning they’d have to be relatively the same age, socioeconomic class and be in similar states of health.

Long Beach residents can apply for rental assistance by clicking here.

Long Beach extends deadline to apply for emergency rental assistance until July 11

Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.