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Coronavirus California Update: Newsom Announces Mortgage Payment Relief, Increased Unemployment Funds

SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) -- Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday hailed an agreement between the White House and the U.S. Senate on a $2 trillion emergency package aimed at blunting the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, in addition to announcing a pause for Californians facing mortgage payments or foreclosures.

Newsom offered praise for California legislators for their leadership in negotiating the national relief package, singling out Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, before going on to outline a waiver for mortgage payments and foreclosures that had been negotiated with banks for the state's homeowners.

"Over the course of the last few weeks, we've been sitting down with banks large and small, credit unions large and small throughout the state of California," Newsom said. "We've been in contact with national bank CEOs from around the United States."

Newsom said the deal would include a 90-day waiver for mortgage and credit payments by people impacted by COVID-19 from the nation's largest banks, including Citibank, JP Morgan Chase, and US Bank. Bank of America also agreed to a payment waiver, but only for 30 days, Newsom said.

Banks have also agreed to a moratorium on foreclosures, Newsom said.

"Some 200 state chartered banks and credit unions have committed to the state of California that they will provide forbearance on foreclosures and on mortgage payments for the next 90 days," Newsom announced.

San Francisco State Senator Scott Wiener issued a statement praising Newsom's decisive action to help homeowners.

"During the COVID-19 emergency, we must hit the pause button for people who have lost income and who are struggling with housing. I commend Governor Newsom for negotiating a 90-day forbearance on mortgage payments with almost all major banks," the statement read. "This is major relief for homeowners who have lost their jobs."

Weiner also called for relief for struggling renters with at minimum, a statewide eviction moratorium.

"I'm co-authoring legislation with Assemblymember Phil Ting to enact a statewide eviction moratorium," Weiner statement said. "I hope the Governor will enact such a moratorium by executive order, so that it can go into effect before rent is due on April 1."

Of the $10 billion in federal funding earmarked for California in the $2 trillion national relief package, $5.5 million would go directly to the state, while the rest would go to cities and counties. Newsom said the funding does not include other specific, direct support for the state also included in the bill.

Word of the agreement on the funding package comes as California is in the process of distributing millions to local authorities to procure personal protective equipment (PPE) and sites for building out more hospital bed space.

In addition, the funding for California would pay for an increase in unemployment benefits, up to $600 weekly on top of what California provides recipients, from $40 to $450 a week. Newsom said the timing was critical as California has just passed the 1 million mark in number of unemployment applications.

U.S. Senate leaders and the White House reached agreement early Wednesday morning on the spending bill, which would be the largest spending bill in U.S. history, after days of intense negotiations, which were nearly derailed earlier this week after Senate Democrats twice blocked the measure from advancing.

The deal includes a provision that blocks businesses controlled by President Trump and his family from receiving federal relief.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's office said Wednesday morning that the New York Democrat secured the provision in the bipartisan deal, prohibiting companies like the Trump Organization from receiving loans or investments from Treasury Department programs.

Businesses controlled by Vice President Mike Pence, members of Congress and Cabinet chiefs are also barred from benefiting from federal funds, according to Schumer's office. The prohibition extends to children, spouses and in-laws of the government officials.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate would vote on the legislation by the end of the day on Wednesday.


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