OAKLAND (KPIX) – Millions of Californians are behind on their rent as a result of the pandemic and the state’s moratorium on evictions is scheduled to end at the end of January. Now, lawmakers have introduced a bill that would extend it for another year. Most agree the ultimate solution will have plenty of pain to go around.

Almost two-thirds of people living in Oakland are renters and some are predicting a “tsunami of evictions” when the moratoriums finally end and people who owe money are told to pay up.

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James Vann founded the Oakland Tenants Union to try to keep people in their homes. But even he can’t imagine what will happen when the government stops protecting the millions of people who owe money to landlords.

“If everybody had to move, where would they go? What would happen?” he said, pointing to the apartment houses on his block. “Nobody can fill up all these vacancies if everybody got evicted.”

California Assemblyman David Chiu isn’t in a rush to find out. He has introduced a bill that would extend the state’s moratorium for 11 months, until the beginning of 2022.

“We have millions of Californians who are hanging by a thread,” said Assemblyman Chiu. “If we were to end the eviction moratorium all of these tenants would potentially be subject to evictions. All of this money would be due immediately and it could be catastrophic.”

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Still, even as they stay in their homes, the amount owed to property owners continues to increase without much prospect of a quick recovery for those out of work.

Bill Mulgrew with the Rental Housing Association of Southern Alameda County says no one is to blame on either side but the burden can’t just fall on the landlords.

“What we need at the highest possible level, let’s call it the federal level, is a program of rent relief that doesn’t favor or penalize either the renter or the housing provider,” he said.

To avert disaster, most agree the federal government will have to fund a program that pays landlords and banks some of what’s coming to them but also holds renters responsible for a portion of what they owe.

Chiu is pushing another bill that would set up a distribution program in case that money comes through. The latest federal stimulus bill being debated in Washington does include money for rent relief but nowhere near the amount of what’s already owed. Vann says at the end of the day, nobody will get back all they are owed and nobody will get off scot-free, especially the taxpayers.

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“Nobody can come out whole,” Vann said, “but everybody will contribute to the solution.”