San Bernardino County Tenants Need Covid-19 Relief Now!

BACKGROUND: 

Governor Newsom Issues Executive Order to Protect Renters and Homeowners During COVID-19 Pandemic

Under the Governor’s Executive Order, through May 31, 2020, evictions related to non-payment of rent for COVID-19-related economic hardships have been halted. If you are financially impacted by COVID-19 and can’t pay your full rent, make sure to let your landlord know in writing no later than seven days after the rent is due, and save documentation as proof. Learn of other financial assistance.

California Eviction Moratorium

California issued a statewide moratorium on residential evictions for renters who cannot pay their rent because of COVID-19 related economic hardships. The moratorium went into effect on March 27 and is valid through May 31, 2020.​

If COVID-19 has impacted your ability to pay all or part of your rent, you should:

  • Explain your financial situation to your landlord and relay how much you are able to pay 
  • Save all financial documents 
  • Pay as much of your rent as you can

If your landlord is attempting to evict you for not paying rent and you took all of the above steps, contact a local legal aid provider.

TOOLS:

California Partnership, has a pdf generator to make a letter to notify your landlord about the rent moratorium. Just add your info and it will generate a pdf and email it to you. You can print it or attach it to an email to notify your landlord:

WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?:

The Governor's Executive Order is guidance for local counties and municipalities, leaving them to enforce the eviction moratorium. As the Los Angeles Times wrote on March 25th:  

While federal, state and local governments have provided some protection against evictions and foreclosures during the escalating pandemic, landlords and tenants agree they need a lot more help to prevent people from losing their homes and properties. And the number of people looking for relief could be staggering. On Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that more than 1 million Californians have applied for unemployment benefits this month after being laid off because of the pandemic.

Landlord groups have started telling their members to stop evicting tenants, cancel any planned rent increases and waive late fees for nonpayment — all previously unthinkable proposals from apartment owners who have spent tens of millions of dollars to block state and local ballot measures to expand rent control.

“This is an unprecedented crisis, and through no fault of their own, people are struggling,” said Jim Lapides, spokesman for the National Multifamily Housing Council, a national landlord advocacy group. “It’s up to us to do our part.”

On Sunday, the group told its members that they should halt evictions for anyone affected by the coronavirus for the next three months, hold off on rent increases and work out payment plans for tenants. The California Apartment Assn., the state’s largest landlord group, has made a similar request of its members.

Newsom has not banned evictions or foreclosures outright. Instead, keeping with his approach of releasing guidelines and advisories rather than legal mandates during the pandemic, he issued an executive order last week asking cities and counties to enact such bans.

Without overarching statewide action, the response has been a patchwork.

We need more.

The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors (BOS) adopted a version of the Governor's order below on March 24th.

  • Resolution No. 2020-19 Exercising the County’s Police Power to Impose Substantive Limitations on Residential and Commercial Evictions and Foreclosures.
  • Resolution No 2020-27 Strongly Urging Basic Utilities Providers – Including Water, Gas, Electricity and Telecommunications – to Impose Moratoriums on Service Disconnections and Late Fees for Non-Payment in Response to Novel Coronavirus pandemic. 

However, the BOS emphasized that the resolutions only apply to properties in the unincorporated county areas; that each municipality will need to pass their own resolutions; and they only set the duration of the resolution for 30 days (not the May 31st date that the Governor stated).

The BOS also neglected to address the existing homelessness crisis; protections or accomodations for formerly incarcerated persons who are ineligible for housing programs; nor did they offer any solutions for how people would be able to pay a month or more of back rent upon the end of the stay-at-home order.   

Now, at the upcoming April 7th meeting, there is nothing on the agenda regarding the moratorium, so it appears that they will be waiting to address this issue again until April 21st. That is too long! 

What does more look like? 

We are calling for an extension on the  eviction moratorium and either rent forgiveness or a one year payment plan. The COVID 19 epidemic emergency is going to go on past May 31st. People have been out of work for several weeks and the social distancing will be in effect for several more weeks. A new resolution should include a spread out payment plan for at least one year after the emergency ends.

Most people will not know there is a moratorium in place or know to write a letter.  Residential or commercial tenants should not be required to write letters to their landlord.

The Board of Supervisors should work with each municipality to pass their own resolutions for a rent freeze and eviction moratorium so that residents throughout the county are protected. 

The county could implement a 90 day rent forgiveness for residential and commercial tenants and explore other possible economic relief measures for residents and local businesses tenants. The county can work with other public entities, team up with other cities or special districts to create a "COVID 19 Recovery District" using either an Annexation development plan, Community Revitalization Investment Authority or an Enhance Infrastructure Financing District. All these instruments already exist in California state law.

In June or July, when the moratorium ends, many people, who will continue to be out of work, will be confronted with many months of back rent due.  This is going to drive many more people into homelessness. The county could use any of the bond instruments listed to spread that ballooning rent debt out over many years.

Further actions are needed immediately to provide relief and assistance to our unhoused community members and our formerly incarcerated and incarcerated folks.  

Talking Points:

  • Don't require residential and commercial tenants to write a letter.  People may not know there is a moratorium in place.
  • Direct the SBC Public Health Department to conduct outreach, wellness checks for vulnerable community members in 
  • 90 day rent forgiveness for residential and commercial tenants during the COVID 19 epidemic emergency
  • Explore economic relief measures for tenants
  • Rent forgiveness, Create a "COVID 19 Recovery District" special district to create an Annexation Development Plan, Community Revitalization Investment Authority or an Enhance Infrastructure Financing District
  • Residential and commercial payment plan that extends to a year for repayment of rent.
  • Emergency funds to provide stable housing for people with conviction or eviction records.
  • Plan and release protocol for testing and prevention for people coming home or going into transitional housing
  • Eliminate crime free housing ordinances or redefining what that means so conviction records do not bar access to housing
  • Immediate release from jail for people within 30 days of parole or release with particular consideration for those over the age of 55 with chronic medical issues and pregnant people
  • Moratorium on red-tag enforcement on multi-unit properties cited for public health violations and explore County property rehabilitation opportunities to prevent forced evictions of residents from property
  • Use all state, county, and city owned available property for emergency housing
  • Suspend all utility shut-offs for non-payment
  • Waive Code Enforcement Fees, cash bail, traffic tickets, parking tickets, and other fines and fees until after the emergency declaration ends
  • Suspend all criminal background checks related to renting/leasing housing and/or accessing housing subsidies from the San Bernardino County Housing Authority

Your action is needed:

  • Submit Public Comments for San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors April 7th Meeting by 9am. (Click here for sample email and talking points.) You can submit public comments on their online form or send them as an email to the Clerk of the Board.  
  • Observe the live stream of the Board meeting on Tuesday morning:  http://www.sbcounty.gov/Main/Pages/ViewMeetings.aspx
  • Share your story. We are in this together, but many of us are feeling the stress of the unknown and the financial pressures are getting larger every day folks are unable to work. We are collecting stories to help highlight our community needs.   
  • Let friends and family, neighbors and coworkers know that there are resources and solutions possible to get us through this crisis if we come together and demand our elected officials work to protect our community and ensure no one gets left out of care and relief.

Showing 1 reaction

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  • Bobbi Jo
    commented 2020-04-07 09:06:24 -0700
    • Kind of a big deal. Please spread the word to help ease some of the stress folks are feeling.
      There is still work to do about the likelihood that folks who have lost their incomes could still find themselves subject to eviction 90 days after the Governor’s declaration is ended, but if you have to choose between food or rent/mortgage – Choose food. Choose medicine. Choose safety. All good thoughts to you, folks!


    Read more at:
    https://wclp.org/summary-california-courts-emergency-rule-on-evictions-and-foreclosures/
    Local folks, stay updated at: http://www.ieprogressivealliance.com/waitt_paie_response

    SUMMARY: California Courts Issue Emergency Rule On Evictions And Foreclosures
    ******
    EVICTIONS
    At its meeting on April 6, 2020, the Judicial Council adopted an emergency court rule that effectively stops all evictions, other than those necessary to protect public health and safety, for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency. The rule is applicable to all courts and to all eviction cases, whether they are based on a tenant’s missed rent payment or another reason. This new court rule will apply until 90 days after the Governor lifts the state of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic, or until it is amended or repealed by the Judicial Council. The rule:

    Prohibits a court from issuing a summons after a landlord files an eviction case, unless necessary to protect public health and safety. This means that, even if a landlord files an eviction case, the tenant will not be under the normal five-day deadline to respond. The time for the tenant to respond to a new eviction case will not begin until the rule is lifted, giving them time to seek out legal assistance and assuring that no tenant’s right to tell their side of the story in court is denied due to the emergency.

    Prohibits a court from entering an automatic default judgment against the tenant because the tenant failed to file a response, unless the court finds:

    The eviction is necessary to protect public health and safety; and

    The tenant failed to respond in the time required by law, including any extension that may apply due to the Governor’s Executive Order regarding evictions during the COVID19 emergency.

    For eviction cases where the tenant has responded or appeared, prohibits a court from setting the case for trial earlier than 60 days after a trial is requested, unless necessary to protect public health and safety.

    Requires any trial in an eviction case that was already scheduled as of April to be postponed until at least 60 days after the initial trial date.

    FORECLOSURES
    In addition, Judicial Council adopted an emergency rule related to foreclosures. This rule also applies until 90 days after the Governor lifts the COVID-19 state of emergency. The rule:

    Prohibits a court from taking any action or issuing any decisions or judgments unless necessary for public health and safety.

    Postpones any legal deadlines for filing foreclosure cases.

    Extends the period for exercising any rights in a foreclosure case, including any right of redemption from a foreclosure sale, or petitioning the court in relation to such a right.

    Read more at:
    https://wclp.org/summary-california-courts-emergency-rule-on-evictions-and-foreclosures/
    Local folks, stay updated at: http://www.ieprogressivealliance.com/waitt_paie_response