Addressing housing, small businesses essential in 2021

Because 2020 was a year unlike any other, the state Legislature had to make tough choices prioritizing legislation that was urgent or directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, we will again have to act with urgency to help the millions of Californians who have been struggling both before and since the COVID-19 health crisis began. I want to highlight some of the priorities I’ll have in the new year.

When the pandemic hit, nearly a million renter households in our state experienced the loss of a job, leading to a looming eviction crisis with the potential to throw millions of families into catastrophe. In 2019, I was proud to co-author a strongest-in-the-nation bill to protect Californians who rent from unjust evictions and unfair rent-gouging. Unfortunately, this law couldn’t help people who could no longer afford their rent or the small landlords who would struggle to make mortgage payments.

My colleagues and I worked to pass AB 3088, an emergency stop-gap measure to protect tenants and small landlords. But this bill only remains in effect through the end of January, and it does nothing to address our housing and homelessness crisis that is decades in the making.

Housing crisis

In this new legislative session, it will be a priority of mine to remind my colleagues that our existing housing crisis did not end when the health crisis began, and that we must also work to address the systemic problems that got us to this point. We cannot allow thousands of hard-working families to be evicted or lose their homes in the middle of a pandemic, just as we cannot afford to wait another year to pass policies that will set California on a path to dramatically increase our housing supply and build sorely needed affordable housing.

I will work to pass legislation that helps people now, while bringing us closer to our long-term goals of making the cost of living in California affordable to working families again.

It is critical, however, that we do not simply throw money at our problems. In a preview of his draft budget, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a proposal to provide $575 million in new emergency aid for small businesses. I commend the governor for prioritizing the small businesses throughout California that are the backbone of our state’s economy and essential to our communities, however, we need to make sure that this is help that is received and not just promised.

COVID-19 vaccine

Cal Matters reported that three weeks after the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine arrived in our state, only 35 percent had been administered. A vaccine does not save lives if it doesn’t make it into people’s arms, and emergency financial aid won’t keep the doors of small businesses open if it doesn’t reach them.

As we review the governor’s proposed budget and begin negotiations in the coming months, I’ll be working to make sure that we are prudent with taxpayer dollars and that our communities actually see the money the state has promised.

Many of our 2020 challenges have unfortunately followed us into 2021, but with them comes the opportunity to build a stronger California.

Reach Assemblyman Tim Grayson at (925) 521-1511. Visit or write the district office 2151 Salvio Street, Suite P, Concord, CA 94520