As California grapples with the ongoing coronavirus crisis, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday evening issued a sweeping executive order to protect homeowners and renters impacted by the pandemic.
The action allows local governments to temporarily halt foreclosures and evictions, and shelters Californians from having their utilities shut off, according to a statement from the governor’s office. That includes critical utilities like water, gas, internet and telephone — including cellphone — service.
The protections will be in effect through May 31, 2020, but could be extended.
In issuing his executive order, Newsom acknowledged the substantial financial loss is affecting the ability of many in the state to pay their rents, mortgages and utility bills.
“People shouldn’t lose or be forced out of their home because of the spread of COVID-19,” Newsom said in the statement. “Over the next few weeks, everyone will have to make sacrifices – but a place to live shouldn’t be one of them. I strongly encourage cities and counties take up this authority to protect Californians.”
While the order is in effect, banks and other financial institutions are requested to halt foreclosures and evictions.
Newsom is also asking public and private utilities to monitor customer services on a weekly basis to ensure they are uninterrupted.
Officials emphasized that the order does not relieve tenants from having to pay their monthly rent, and landlords will still be able to recover rent that is due to them.
The recent COVID-19 outbreak has hit America hard economically, with many businesses forced to temporarily shutter or change their operations.
A recent poll found that about 18% of adult American workers have lost their jobs or had their hours cut amid the fallout, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.
And last week, an analysis from Moody’s Analytics found that nearly half of the 153 million jobs in the U.S. economy are at high or moderate risk because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The White House on Tuesday announced it was seeking an $850-billion economic stimulus to help Americans affected by the crisis.
During a news conference, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the plan included the government payouts to American adults. Checks could be sent in the next two weeks, he said, noting that President Trump “has instructed me we have to do this now.”