LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Whether you’re looking to rent or buy your next home, Californians have a couple of more reasons on Friday to dip their feet into the housing market.
A new program from the California Association of Realtors now offers prospective buyers a form of unemployment insurance under a program being rolled out by the state’s real estate agents’ association, while City Council members have voted to extend an ordinance to protect tenants living in non-rent-controlled apartments from eviction on the grounds of foreclosure.
The so-called Home Payment Protection Program, which allows home sellers to fund insurance schemes that pay buyers up to $1,500 a month toward their mortgage for six months if they’re laid off from their jobs, acknowledges the gloomy job outlook in California, where 12.4 percent of the population remains without work.
Association President Beth Peerce says the program will be a selling point for buyers who feel uncertain about their employment situations.
While the Los Angeles City Council has banned such evictions for renters in non-rent-controlled properties since 2008, that moratorium was set to expire on New Year’s Eve. Friday’s action extended the moratorium through Dec. 31, 2011. The city’s rent-control law already protects tenants in rent-controlled buildings from such evictions.
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City Council President Eric Garcetti said it was necessary to protect “innocent victims of the foreclosure crisis.”
“We found that there were renters who were living in homes, who were living in apartments, and when those properties were foreclosed on…they were being evicted for no good reason,” he said.
“These are truly innocent victims, people who had no hand in causing that foreclosure to occur,” he added. “They were just the tenants who were paying their rent every month on time, who should be able to stay.”
Garcetti said before the moratorium was adopted, evictions had a “terrible” effect on the community. He said abandoned homes became a blight and a public safety hazard. He said gang members sometimes moved into them and used them as a base for illegal activities.
The ordinance approved today does not bar evictions for other reasons, such as failure to pay rent.
According to Garcetti, more than 10,000 single-family homes and condominiums in Los Angeles were subject to foreclosure in 2008.
There was little relief in 2009, when 9,800 of the city’s properties were subject to foreclosure, Garcetti said.
He said the foreclosure tally in the first half of 2010 is 4,600 properties.
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