Updated 5:11 p.m.
People unable to pay rent due to the coronavirus will be able to stay in their homes through at least May after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order banning evictions statewide Friday.
Renters who have lost work or wages because of the virus must declare in writing to their landlord that they are unable to pay rent. They may still be evicted if rent isn’t paid in full by the time the moratorium lifts on May 31.
“There will be no eviction proceedings. There will be no enforcement as it relates to your inability to pay through COVID-19,” he said at a press conference in Los Angeles soon after the executive order was announced.
The moratorium comes days after Newsom announced big banks would temporarily suspend mortgage payments and foreclosures. The governor had previously allowed local governments to suspend evictions, but said Friday only about 30 had so far done so.
The order “does not preempt any local ordinances that go deeper or farther, but it is an overlay for the entire state of California,” he said.
But some renter advocates said Newsom’s executive order does not go far enough and called for it to be extended at least through the duration of the state of emergency.
Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, said the order still leaves room for landlords to terminate leases if a renter does not pay, opening the door for eviction once the moratorium is lifted.
“The last thing we need is a wave of evictions immediately after the emergency ends, and that is exactly what this executive order allows,” Wiener said.
Newsom was in Los Angeles Friday to tour the USNS Mercy hospital ship with Mayor Eric Garcetti shortly after the ship docked at the Port of Los Angeles.
The ship has about 1,000 medical beds. It’s being called a “COVID-free bubble’” and is meant to free up space in hospitals for coronavirus patients.
“They’re fully stocked, fully staffed with every conceivable need you can ever imagine,” Newsom said.
The governor has said California could be short 50,000 hospital beds if there’s a surge of patients affected by the coronavirus. He announced two recently-closed hospitals would be reactivated to house patients. Newsom has also said he’s looking at hotels to take overflow patients if necessary.
The Mercy is one of two Navy ships being used during the pandemic. The other is being sent to New York.
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