by Photo courtesy of Gov. Gavin Newsom's office

A woman signed a bill into California law for the first time in history on Friday to extend protections against eviction. 

Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalaki stepped in as acting governor in signing Assembly Bill 2179 into state law as Gov. Gavin Newsom and his family are on vacation in Central and South America. The statewide eviction moratorium was extended Thursday to June 30 with AB 2179 authored by Assemblymembers Tim Grayson (D-Concord) and Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland). 

“I remain more determined than ever to ensure that while I may be the first (woman) to (sign a bill into law), I will certainly not be the last. … Today’s action will provide additional time to thousands more (renters) who are in the process of acquiring emergency relief,” Kounalakis wrote on Twitter

The law will stop evictions for people who have applied for assistance, but it will not provide renters more time to apply for help. The recent extension will only apply to renters who applied for the California Emergency Rental Assistance by March 31. 

The state will pay off unpaid rent for the tens of thousands of people who fell behind on their payments because of the pandemic after the California legislature passed the bill. Renters who didn’t apply by the Thursday deadline can face eviction proceedings starting today.

“AB 2179 protects eligible renters who signed up for relief funds before the March 31 deadline,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins of San Diego. “While we know there are many ongoing issues regarding rent, tenants, landlords, and localities, we made a commitment to act on behalf of those who were in line for this relief, and that’s why AB 2179 passed so quickly with such strong support.”

The rent relief program had provided relief to over 220,000 households out of nearly 507,000 households seeking relief throughout California, according to a state dashboard. As the largest state effort in the country, the $5.5 billion COVID rent relief covers 100 percent of past-due rent payments for qualified low-income Californians. 

Under the state program, tenants can access rental funds directly if their landlord chooses not to participate, and landlords can receive compensation even if their otherwise income-qualified tenants have already vacated a unit. Additional program information is available at the Housing Is Key website

Acting Gov. Kounalakis also signed Friday SB 504 by Senator Josh Becker (D-Menlo Park), which will allow military and overseas voters and voters with disabilities to complete a same-day voter registration and cast a ballot. Additionally, it provides the Secretary of State with more accurate voter rolls, and streamlines the process for the state’s universal vote by mail system by removing several unnecessary provisions.

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