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California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Photo: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California will pay off the accumulated unpaid rent that has piled up during the COVID-19 pandemic, the AP reports.

Why it matters: The move would fulfill a promise to landlords to help them to break even, while giving renters relief, the AP writes.

The big picture: A little over 2% of people in California who have applied for rent relief during the pandemic have received it, KQED reports.

  • The state has accrued $5.2 billion from various federal aid packages to pay off people's rent, which should be enough to get the job done, Jason Elliott, senior counselor to Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on housing and homelessness, told AP.
  • California has been slow to distribute the funds. The state has received $490 million in rental aid requests through May 31, but only $32 million has been paid out, when not including the 12 cities and 10 counties that run independent rental assistance programs, per AP.

But, but, but: State officials also haven't yet decided whether they'll extend California's eviction moratorium, which is set to expire on June 30.

  • Newsom and lawmakers are "meeting privately" about the issue, but there are disagreements as to how long the moratorium should last, AP reports.
  • Extending the moratorium would give the state enough time to distribute the funds to pay off unpaid rents, which might not be possible to do by June 30, the AP notes.

Go deeper

California Gov. Newsom signs legislation making mail-in ballots permanent

Gov. Gavin Newsom. Photo: Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/East Bay Times via Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation Monday making permanent a pandemic-era measure to mail ballots to all registered voters, the governor's office announced in a statement.

Why it matters: The move to make voting by mail permanent is intended to "increase access to democracy and enfranchise more voters," according to the statement.

Alabama trying to use COVID relief funds to expand prisons

Inside the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Ala., in 2018. Photo: Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images

Alabama state lawmakers are trying to funnel up to $400 million of the state's American Rescue Plan funds to pay for a $1.3 billion plan to build and renovate prisons across the state, the Associated Press reports.

Why it matters: Diverting dollars from the COVID-relief package, passed in March, is prompting criticism over misuse.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker