Keeping Oaklanders safe at home is the most powerful tool we have to save lives during COVID-19.
I'm introducing an emergency ordinance to immediately enact an eviction moratorium to protect renters, small businesses and nonprofits unable to pay rent.
- The ordinance would apply to Oakland renters, small and medium sized businesses with 100 or fewer employees, and nonprofits.
- It also imposes a moratorium on residential rent increases and late fees.
We must recognize that delaying rent payments for a few months will increase debt for people living paycheck to paycheck and who have lost their jobs. It also puts pressure on landlords who still have mortgage payments. To address the broader economic problem, my ordinance also calls on City Council to:
urge state + federal legislators, and banks + financial institutions to suspend rent and mortgage payments, foreclosures, and late fees, with immediate forgiveness.
Just today, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that 200 banks and financial institutions, except Bank of America, committed to a 90-day waiver on mortgages and foreclosures for those impacted by COVID-19. This is a good start.
Truly systemic economic action, that helps everyday people pay the bills without going into more debt, requires the state and federal government to take action that cities do not have the power to take. We're all in this together - renters, homeowners, landlords and small businesses. That's why we need:
- moratorium on evictions and foreclosures,
- suspension of rents, mortgages and late fees, and
- emergency assistance to pay the bills and grants to small businesses to stay afloat.
We must help prevent displacement, reduce transmission of COVID-19, and promote Oaklanders' economic stability, health, and safety for the long-term. In a pandemic, we are only as protected as the most vulnerable and exposed among us.
How You Can Help
The ordinance will be voted on this Friday, March 27, 2020 at 11 AM at a special teleconference council meeting via Zoom. Please participate by submitting an e-comment on Agenda Item #1 and by joining. Thank you to co-sponsors Councilmember Dan Kalb and City Attorney Barbara Parker for partnering with me and for statewide grassroots movement allies for leading the effort. Check out this City Lab article, What Cities Are Doing to Stall Evictions and Foreclosures.
I also urged Alameda County Superior Court and the Sheriff's Office to suspend all eviction activity. All eviction proceedings have been suspended until April 8. The Sherriff's Office has announced temporary suspension too.
See my last newsletter for resources and opportunities to support our community, including: contributing to Oakland's COVID-19 Relief Fund, using crowdsourced guides to help our small businesses, and volunteering with organizations providing critical emergency services.
For information in Spanish, please see Recursos para la comunidad indocumentada en Área de la Bahía durante la pandemia del coronavirus by Azucena Rasilla.