California eviction moratorium expires, but local ordinances can keep renters in place
OAKLAND, Calif. - The expiration of California's eviction moratorium, which protected renters who couldn't pay rent during the pandemic, is a concern for many renters who say they are still hampered by the ongoing pandemic and economic hardships from job losses or illness.
"It definitely puts me in a stressful situation as a mother of three children, two of who are in college," said Kimberly Cheadle who lives in East Palo Alto and says she was working full-time and struggling to make ends meet even before the pandemic, with rent jumping from $2,550 to $4,300 a month.
During the pandemic, Cheadle says her daughter lost her job that helped pay the bills.
"My daughter for one, she's the oldest. She lost her job during the pandemic and then she fell sick, had pneumonia and was in the hospital for a little bit with that," said Cheadle.
"Here in the Bay Area, over 100,000 households are at risk of being evicted," said Kevin Zwick, CEO, United Way Bay Area, "Statewide nearly one in three renter households are at risk of eviction, so that's nearly 5 million Californians."
Zwick says their 2-1-1 housing hotline has had a huge spike in calls.
He says renters and landlords should know there are ways to get money for rental assistance.
"There's nearly $5 billion that the state has to help people stay housed," said Zwick.
Many landlords say the moratorium hurt them, with no rental income to pay bills and mortgages.
"If the pipes burst in the middle of the night. We're still responsible for footing the bill to make that repair, even if our tenant is not paying rent. So, nothing has changed for us as it relates to our bills," said Krista Gulbransen, executive director of the Berkeley Property Owners Association and staff member of the California Rental Housing Association. "What many people don't realize is that in California, the majority of residential rental housing is owned by owners who have fewer than 10 units of ownership."
She says the state has allowed local jurisdictions such as Alameda County, Berkeley and Oakland to create their own eviction moratoriums that will not expire Friday.
She says there is concern about some renters abusing the situation.
"Unfortunately there are people who have gamed the system and not paid rent since March, refused to apply for the rental assistance, most likely because they know they do not qualify, and the eviction moratorium continues to protect them. And the owner continues to not get paid the rent," said Gulbransen.
Alameda County officials say their eviction moratorium does not expire until after the county's pandemic emergency orders are lifted.
"All residential evictions anywhere in the county are prohibited with few exceptions until 60 days after the local health emergency is lifted. And the local health emergency issued by the public health officer is still in place," said Jennifer Pearce, the Alameda County Deputy Director of Housing.
Still renters and landlords are being urged to take action now and not wait to apply for financial aid.
"We want people to know they have legal rights. They can't be evicted right away. And we need people to get connected to legal assistance and we need the governor to sign bills to ensure legal assitance," said Zwick.
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Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU. Email Jana at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or ktvu.com.