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Morning Brief: Rent Forgiveness

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Protestors line up in front of the Banc of California Stadium demanding a freeze on rent during the pandemic. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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Good morning, L.A.

Many Angelenos and Californians have faced severe financial hardship over the past year, resulting in hundreds of thousands of individuals and families living in fear that they could be kicked out of their homes at any moment.

State and local lawmakers have tried to intervene with eviction moratoriums, but they’ve been short-lived, overlapping and confusing. California’s latest legislative move, reports my colleague Aaron Schrank, was, as of yesterday, to extend their existing moratorium through the end of June — but with some significant caveats.

In order to qualify for eviction protection, tenants still have to pay either 25% of their rent each month, or 25% of all overdue rent by June 30 in one lump sum.

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A rent subsidy program was also put in place by the state yesterday, through which landlords can opt to be reimbursed for 80% of their tenants’ rent, as long as the landlord agrees to forgive the other 20%.

But landlords can choose not to participate in that program, in which case the state will still subsidize 25% of the tenants’ rent, and the tenant will be on the hook for the remaining 75% in June, or face possible eviction.

Does this all sound confusing? That’s because it is. Incredibly so. And many tenants agree. After all, yesterday’s vote comes after nearly a year of rushed, complicated lawmaking around the question of rent relief.

Last spring, L.A. landlords were prohibited from initiating eviction proceedings. At that time, it wasn’t clear how long coronavirus closures would last. The city launched a rent relief program in June, and promptly received more than 220,000 applications — although the program was only designed to help 50,000 households.

Then, in September, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a statewide moratorium on evictions, which would expire in Feb. 2021 — the same moratorium that state lawmakers voted yesterday to extend.

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This doesn’t even take into account the county’s actions, or the pushback from landlords. In other words, it’s a wildly difficult time to be a renter in California, and while some elected officials seem to want to help, they don’t seem to understand the confusion caused by various governing bodies.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.


What Else You Need To Know Today


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Weekend Reads

There's a lot going on in the world right now, and it’s hard enough to keep up with our day-to-day lives, let alone to stay current on the news. But if you have some time this weekend, here’s what you may have missed:

The vaccine rollout in L.A. has left much to be desired. Here’s a look behind the strategy, and why it’s been so bad. (LAist)

Kobe Bryant’s legacy will live forever. (L.A. Watts Times)

Black Lives Matter-L.A. activist Fahren James is suing the LAPD for assault over injuries she allegedly received while peacefully protesting. (L.A. Sentinel)

At least 18 secret gangs have proliferated in the L.A. Sheriff’s Department over the past 50 years, some of which have encouraged violence against residents. (LAist)

Vivian Escalante is fighting to save Boyle Heights’ historical buildings and legacy. (The Eastsider)

An essential guide to L.A.’s mom-and-pop burger joints. (L.A. Taco)

Hollywood’s tour bus companies, the ones that drive double-decker vehicles through the hills and surrounding areas, have been decimated by the pandemic. (L.A. Business Journal)

Poet Amanda Gorman, 22, journeyed from growing up in a low-income part of L.A. to reading her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” at President Biden’s inauguration. Here’s her story. (LAist)

The hot dog vendor who worked the downtown L.A. Trump rally on Jan, 6, Don Efrain Gonzalez, became known for his iconic hustle overnight. Here’s his story. (Los Angeleno)

Nursing professor and artist Ali Tayyeb is creating sculptures and other works to impress the importance of the community taking care of health care workers. (San Fernando Valley Sun)

We took a deep dive into the gorgeous array of outerwear on display at President Joe Biden’s inauguration. (LAist)


Before You Go … Here’s What To Do This Weekend

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Life does begin after coffee. (Bruno Emmanuelle/Unsplash)

There are plenty of coronavirus-approved activities to enjoy from the safety of your home:

Listen to Flying Lotus live from Brooklyn. Laugh along with some of comedy's biggest stars to benefit the SF Sketchfest. Learn about the accidental discovery of coffee. Watch a troupe try to perform Who Framed Roger Rabbit? from memory. View a psychological thriller about a couple trapped in a hotel. Toast the birthday of actress Marion Davies, a star of the silent era of movies and beyond. And more.


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The news cycle moves fast. Some stories don't pan out. Others get added. Consider this today's first draft, and check LAist.com for updates on these stories and more. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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