Gov. Gavin Newsom, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, and elected officials in Oakland, San Leandro, Hayward, all imposed moratoriums on evictions from rental housing related to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Oakland’s ordinance, authored by Councilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas, may be the strongest yet approved. The council’s move came just minutes after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a statewide moratorium on evictions due to the coronavirus. But Oakland’s urgency moratorium goes further, and includes protections for residential and commercial tenants, and prohibits rent increases, and late fees.
The moratorium, which is backed by the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Oakland Jobs and Housing Coalition, does not cover single-family home renters and local businesses with 100 or more employees.
Meanwhile, Alameda County supervisors approved a moratorium on evictions providing relief only for renters in the unincorporated areas of Alameda County — but could possibly later extend it to all cities in the county that have not already passed their own moratoriums.
Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan raised the possibility of the moratorium covering the entire county. Chris Bazar, Alameda County Community Development Agency director, said the county’s counsel is studying whether the county has the authority to do so. “It sounds like very much of a possibility that we could pursue,” Bazar added.
County staff indicated subsequent renewals of the moratorium for the unincorporated areas is likely as the depth and severity of the virus outbreak is better understood. “This is very much meant to be forwarded indefinitely,” Bazar said.
In San Leandro, the city council unanimously approved an urgency moratorium on evictions for residential and commercial renters due to a loss of income stemming from the crisis. The moratorium runs through May 31 and also covers mobile homeowners — a sizable, often older and low-income population of renters in San Leandro. The urgency moratorium originally called for tenants to repay their landlords within 90 days after the state’s declaration of emergency is lifted.
Councilmember Deborah Cox worried the three-month period would be too short and called for extending it longer.
The council agreed and approved a time frame for paying back full or partial rents for 120 days. If the crisis persists longer, tenants can provide documentation that the coronavirus has continued to impact their ability to pay rent.
In these cases, the payback period can be extended to 180 days. Under the ordinance, tenants are required to notify their landlords of their inability to pay their rent with in 10 days.
Meanwhile, in Hayward, one week after postponing a moratorium on evictions due to COVID-19, the city council unanimously approved the temporary protections for residential tenants on Tuesday night.
The urgency moratorium, effective immediately, lasts for 90 days. The ordinance also expands the city’s current mediation services to help renters negotiate a repayment schedule with property owners for missed rent during the state’s emergency declaration.
“This is not a moratorium from paying rent,” Hayward Councilmember Mark Salinas said. “If you can pay rent, we would like you to pay rent.”
While the ordinance gives relief to residential renters, it does not include the same protections for commercial renters.
“I’m a little disappointed this doesn’t cover all people,” said Hayward Councilmember Aisha Wahab, who first offered the moratorium referral two weeks ago. “COVID will only exacerbate existing inequities.”
However, the city is working on a number of other policy ideas to help commercial renters, including bridge loans, rental subsidies, low-cost deferred loans, and loan forgiveness.
On Thursday, the city announced they will be offering 76 individual $5,000 grants to small businesses in Hayward with less 25 or fewer employees, in addition, to independent restaurant owners to help cope with the significant drop in customers due to the COVID-19 shelter in place order. The grants for eligible recipients will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis, the city said.