By Devin Fehely

SAN JOSE (KPIX) – State lawmakers are scrambling to hammer out a deal to extend California’s eviction moratorium before the June 30th deadline.

“In a matter of days, we could see evictions start up again for potentially hundreds of thousands of Californians who are behind on their rent. And this would be counter-productive at best and tragic at best,” says Assemblyman David Chui.

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Eviction moratoriums were designed to help Californians struggling with the cost of housing during the pandemic that paralyzed large swaths of the state’s economy.

“I couldn’t pay rent so I needed help,” says Melanie Rodrigues. She says she fell behind on her rent after the death of her mother in April.

“They have all this help out there in theory, but they haven’t handed it out because it’s so hard to get it,” says Melanie who has struggled for the past few months to qualify for federal rental assistance programs.

Congress approved $5.2B for California to help pay back rent for thousands of tenants across the state. So far, the state has only approved and paid out a little more than 60-million.

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“We have four that have been approved and zero that have been paid out so far,” says Jeff Zell who owns a property management company with roughly two-thousand rental units. Zell says 76 of his company’s 80 applications for rent reimbursement have yet to be approved.

“It’s super frustrating and I have no way to work with it or work around it. There’s nothing I can do,” says Zell.

A spokesperson for the California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency which runs the program says they are trying to make the application process faster, more efficient and easier to use.

But until that happens, housing advocates say the state eviction moratorium must be extended.

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“Some people are just now getting employed. And they don’t even know if that job is going to be reliable and stable and a good fit for them. So, a good six month extension seems reliable,” says Shaunn Cartwright.