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The Lookout: Gov. Newsom signs budget-related bills funding housing, community orgs, and more

By Aldon Thomas Stiles | California Black Media

Watching your tax dollars, elected officials and legislation that affects you.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a number of different bills Monday, June 28, many of them related to the state’s $262.2 billion budget for fiscal year 2020-21.

Among priorities set to receive funding are rent relief, housing and some community-based organizations delivering social services locally.

One of the bills Newsom signed is Assembly Bill (AB) 832 which will pay 100% of qualifying tenants' past due and/or prospective rent and extend the eviction moratorium to Sept. 30.

"In an agreement forged between the Governor, the Senate and the Assembly, AB 832 increases the value of the reimbursement the state’s emergency rental assistance program provides to now cover 100 percent of past-due and prospective rent payments, as well as utility bills for income-qualified tenants," Newsom's office said in a statement.

"AB 832 also allows tenants to access rental funds directly if their landlord chooses not to participate and ensures landlords can receive compensation even if their otherwise income-qualified tenants have already vacated a unit," it continued

AB 832 also includes provisions that will protect renters after the eviction moratorium expires.

There has been a bit of pushback for this bill. One such critic is Toyin Dawodu, a landlord in Riverside who is suing the state over courts being unavailable for tenant related cases due to the pandemic.

"They should have some empathy for small business owners like us who buy properties, rent them out and we've been paying mortgages for about 12 to 14 months and have not been able to collect rent," Dawodu said, responding to the governor singing AB 832 into law.

Newsom also signed Assembly Bill (AB) 128, called the Budget Act of 2021, which sets the budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

This budget will allocate state and federal money to various programs and projects, including $1 billion in funds annually to combat homelessness. That money will be funneled down to local governments.

That bill has garnered support from mayors of some of California's largest cities, namely the Big City Mayors Coalition.

“California has nearly five hundred cities and towns, yet 58% of unhoused Californians live in one of the state’s 13 largest cities," stated San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, chair of the Big City Mayors Coalition.

"Our big cities need resources to scale proven solutions, so I am grateful for our legislature’s historic investment of $1 billion annually to spur local communities’ innovative efforts against homelessness. We urge Governor Newsom to join the legislature in providing large cities with funds we can quickly deploy to house our most vulnerable neighbors," Liccardo continued.

According to Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), 2021 has seen a record budget surplus of over $76 billion.

"California's finances overall are in great shape, but we know many local communities continue to struggle in the aftermath of the pandemic. This is a commonsense approach that allocates one-time state resources to help our local communities," Atkins said last week.

The budget, particularly tax increases on businesses with 500 or more employees, has drawn some criticism from Republican lawmakers.

“The tax increase required a two-thirds vote from the Legislature, a task made easier by Democrats controlling enough seats that they don’t need Republican votes,” responded Sen. Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield).

"As #CaBudget Chair, I’m proud of the work the subcommittee chairs & I have done this session to craft a historic, transformative spending plan that helps struggling Californians & advances our economic recovery. Thank you to our staff, who also played a big role in this success," Ting wrote.

Assembly Bill (AB) 464 will authorize a city or county to establish an Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District (EIFD) to finance the construction and maintenance of small businesses in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bill will also make state funds available for "facilities in which nonprofit community organizations provide health, youth, homeless and social services."

Assemblymember Kevin Mullin (D-San Francisco), author of AB 464, explained what he believes the bill will do for the local economy.

"Economic and community recovery from the catastrophic effects of the COVID pandemic will depend on public investment as soon as possible to resume the local economy," Mullin said last week.


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