UPDATE: San Jose approves extending eviction ban to protect renters
San Jose City Hall is pictured in this file photo. Photo by Loan-Anh Pham.

San Jose leaders aren’t waiting for California to make a move this week to protect renters and acted quickly Tuesday to halt local evictions during the COVID-19 crisis.

Since the state’s eviction ban is set to expire Jan. 31, the San Jose City Council voted unanimously to enact an eviction ban until March. In the meantime, the state is rushing to provide its own support.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday released a plan to extend the state’s eviction ban through June 30, but the plan is awaiting Legislature approval. Newsom’s new plan will also deploy $2.6 billion in aid to help landlords and tenants pay down debt.

The vote could happen as soon as this Thursday.

But San Jose lawmakers want to protect residents now.

“It’s clear that our residents in San Jose are continuing to face the worst of this crisis and this pandemic including the risk of heading over the eviction cliff,” Councilmember Maya Esparza said. “Hopefully the state will do the right thing and we won’t be needed, but again, our city is standing ready to be that last line of defense.”

San Jose’s emergency measure will halt evictions due to nonpayment of rent for tenants and mobile home owners who have been financially impacted by COVID-19 until March 4 and will include a one year repayment plan for rent accrued during the eviction ban.

Morales-Ferrand said the city would consider extending the moratorium again if the local emergency is extended.

Last September, California passed AB 3088 that limited evictions through Jan. 31 for tenants who could pay 25% of rent owed during that time. If the state or federal government does not take action, starting Feb. 1 tenants will be required to pay full monthly rent again or otherwise potentially face eviction, according to Housing Director Jacky Morales-Ferrand.

If the Legislature does not approve California’s extended ban on evictions, San Jose’s protections would last until March 4 or whenever the state of emergency is lifted.

If the state does extend protections this week, that plan would supersede the city’s measure.

Mathew Reed, policy manager with Silicon Valley at Home, said he supported the city’s swift action ahead of the state.

“Our state leadership can and should do better than wait until the last moment to address the human costs of the uncertainty of these times,” Reed said.

In addition to banning evictions, Esparza and Councilmember Pam Foley also encouraged their colleagues to extend the city’s rent increase moratorium, which took effect last April and stopped rent increases in mobile homes and rent controlled apartments Dec. 31, 2020.

Foley, however, suggested a freeze on rents for mobile home residents who are impacted COVID-19 so that mobile home park owners can maintain their operations.

Roberta Moore, a 29 year resident of San Jose and a fourplex owner, supported Foley’s proposal and suggested it be applied to renters.

“This proposal is designed to be fair and equitable for all parties … the majority of owners, including me, want to do what’s right and help people,” Moore said. “This is the best way to help people who are most in need without causing unnecessary burden on housing providers.”

From September 2020 to January 2021, San Jose’s housing department recorded 2,032 notices of nonpayment of rent and 34 eviction notices. On average, residents who received eviction notices owed $13,500 in back rent from April to October, according to a memo by Morales-Ferrand.

According to a U.S. Household Pulse Survey, more than 5 million Californians behind on rent payments fear they will be evicted from their homes in the next two months.

Contact Carly Wipf at [email protected] or follow @CarlyChristineW on Twitter.

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