Contra Costa Co.: Eviction, rent increase moratoriums extended

Extensions of a temporary prohibition on rental tenant evictions 
and of a residential rent increase moratorium, as many renters are losing some or all of their income due to the COVID-19 pandemic, were both approved by the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

The supervisors first approved the eviction moratorium and rent 
freeze in March, as the pandemic was beginning, and extended them in May. The latest urgency ordinances were set to expire Wednesday.

Tuesday's urgency ordinance will extend the eviction prohibition 
through Sept. 30, and the rent freeze through Jan. 31, 2021. The supervisors on Tuesday pledged to revisit both before Sept. 30.

The protections are for tenants who can prove they've lost income 
because of the coronavirus -- a layoff tied directly to a pandemic-related business loss or closure, for instance -- or that they've had out-of-pocket medical bills related to the coronavirus.

The extended ordinance covers all parts of the county, both its 19 
cities and the unincorporated areas.

Tuesday's urgency extensions came as county officials have no idea how much state and/or federal support renters and landlords will be able to seek. Chief Assistant County Counsel Mary Ann Mason told the supervisors Tuesday that there are at least eight pending state bills that address the situation; one, Senate Bill 1410, would allow landlords to seek state assistance with income lost through non-payment of rents, and require renters to then repay back rents to the state.

Supervisors voted unanimously to approve both urgency extensions. 

Led by Karen Mitchoff of Concord, the supervisors also acknowledged that many landlords don't have huge cash reserves, and are in just as much peril as are their renters.

"I'm challenging our federal and state representatives to get this 
taken care of," Supervisor Diane Burgis of Oakley said Tuesday. 

A report released last week by the Bay Area Equity Atlas found 
that 12,000 households, including 10,400 children, would have been at "imminent risk of eviction" had the moratorium not been extended. Also, 9,500 households could be at risk of eviction once the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program ends July 31, the report said.

More than a dozen commenters, several of them housing advocates, called into Tuesday's supervisors' meeting to request that the eviction moratorium be extended, saying they or others they know faced homelessness if they weren't.