Amid a ticking “eviction time bomb” in Santa Clara County, the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday (Aug. 11) unanimously approved an extension on the eviction moratorium for both apartment and business tenants.
The moratorium covers tenants who can’t pay their rent or mortgage because of job or wage loss related to COVID-19 beyond its current expiration on Aug. 31.
The end date for the new eviction ban will be decided at the next Board of Supervisors meeting on Aug. 25.
The ban might also include additional protections for tenants and fines for landlords who do violate the moratorium.
“I am favor of extending the moratorium but we can’t just be doing this as a Band-Aid solution because it’s not going to really do anything in the long run for all of us who are renters and are suffering for not able to pay rent,” said Cecilia Chavez, who is an organizer with Silicon Valley De-Bug.
The board echoed similar sentiments, agreeing that the moratorium was a short-term solution aimed to buy the county more time to come up with lasting policies to combat the impending housing crisis.
A report by the labor-backed group Working Partnerships USA found that more than 43,000 rental units in the county were at risk of being evicted once the previous county moratorium was set to expire.
“These really are issues where we need the state and federal government to step up. I used the phrase earlier, ‘buying some time’. We have done that we are continuing to do that, but we need the state and federal government … to use that time to get to meaningful, long-term solutions to some of those very difficult challenges,” Supervisor Joe Simitian said.
Supervisor Cindy Chavez also asked county counsel to ensure that the moratorium laws are real and effective for small business tenants.
“Despite the moratorium, some landlords have ignored the law and are trying to force their tenants to defend costly lawsuits,” Chavez said.
“We have a lot of property owners who are doing the right thing by people right now, so the intent is not to penalize those who are really trying to support each other getting through this. It is really for the outliers that are taking advantage,” Chavez said.
The Santa Clara County unlawful detainer courtroom, which reviews eviction cases, reopened on Aug. 5, but state laws bar the court from hearing any new cases.
However, landlords can still file new cases and when the state-wide eviction moratorium is eventually lifted, the court can resume operations.
“The only cure that is going to happen is people going back to work and there has to be tolerance and understanding from landlords and tenants working together,” Supervisor Mike Wasserman said.
“I am all in favor of this extension, I have been in favor of each one prior, but this is a deferral and not a solution. I think what we need is the state to step forward to help solve the problem, not extend the problem by allowing people to go back to work,” Wasserman said. — Bay City News