Governor Newsom should take the following actions to mitigate the devastating economic effects the COVID-19 pandemic is having on our communities and ensure that all individuals and families are stably housed.
Order an immediate moratorium on rent increases, all evictions, and all foreclosures.
The need to protect residents who live paycheck to paycheck from the economic fallout of this virus includes protecting them against facing price gouging, eviction, and homelessness. The state also needs to take action to ensure that people who can not now pay rent during this crisis are protected from eviction in the future for this current inability to pay rent.
- We request that the Governor immediately direct all County and City Marshals and Sheriffs to cease evicting people and executing writs of possession until further notice. These efforts should extend long enough to ensure people remain stably housed in the immediate aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.
- We request that the Governor immediately ban all eviction notices, invalidate unexpired notices, and stop new eviction cases from being filed. No moratorium is complete if eviction is only delayed for a more convenient time for landlords and tenants are made legally liable when their notices expire.
- The Governor must immediately order a freeze on all rent increases, even minimal ones. Rent hikes during this time is tantamount to price gouging given the potential for lost wages, and would make renters more vulnerable to evictions.
Eviction and foreclosure during the time the virus is being transmitted would only further spread this virus and make its containment harder because people would not have a home to care for the health, safety and welfare of their families. In addition, forcing renters to defend themselves in crowded eviction courts at this time is directly at odds with government guidance emphasizing the critical importance of social distancing to contain the spread of the virus. Further, allowing landlords to evict tenants in the future, as a result of their inability to pay rent during this time of crisis would be manifestly unjust and serve to deepen what is already a severe housing crisis across the country.
Suspend and forgive rents and mortgages.
Even before this crisis, millions of low-income people were already living rent- burdened, from paycheck to paycheck, on the brink of eviction, and being forced into homelessness. With no current plan in place, many residents have no paid leave, no savings, no job security, and are being laid off as we speak. Even temporary foreclosure and eviction moratoriums will require homeowners and renters to pay back what will become insurmountable debts. We can’t afford these interconnected economic and health crises! The only solution that will actually protect renters and homeowners alike is to suspend and forgive mortgage and rental payments now, as has been done in other countries.
- The state must call on banks and lenders to immediately suspend mortgages, provide financial relief for homeowners and landlords, including supporting non-profit housing providers to remain sustainable and able to continue to provide housing.
- Mortgages and rents must also be forgiven immediately and continue for the duration of this crisis, including a recovery period after the state of emergency is lifted. Mortgages shouldn’t be accruing interest either.
Prohibit utility shut-offs and rate increases, halt application of late fees, and reinstitute services immediately.
Widespread loss of income will cause some of the most vulnerable individuals and families to fall behind on payments for basic services including water, gas, internet, phone service and electricity. All public and private utilities and service providers should be prohibited from shutting off service, increasing rates, or applying late fees during the public health crisis. Shutting off utilities will increase suffering and economic instability while also undermining public health goals by preventing appropriate sanitation and dislocating people from homes. Accordingly, all public and private utilities doing business in the state should halt all utility shut-offs and related fees during this crisis.
Provide emergency funds now and long-term funding to create and maintain social housing and for non-profit housing providers.
Public housing agencies and other housing providers must have the necessary resources to keep residents safe and healthy during this crisis. Additional, long-term resources should be provided to build and maintain a robust social housing stock to create a permanent source of safe and affordable housing for all people. The time for temporary fixes to our housing crisis is long past. We need permanent housing solutions to end homelessness and housing insecurity for everyone.