Eviction ban debate: Alameda County discusses future of moratorium

Alameda County’s eviction ban was under debate Tuesday at the board of supervisors meeting with rental housing providers calling for an end to the moratorium.

For hours, rental property owners shared their stories of frustration and opposition to the ongoing emergency ordinance that they say has ruined their livelihoods.

"We have been suffering, we have been helping, we have been housing people," Oakland property owner Hannah Kirk said. "We ask for the same level of respect and credit back for what we’ve been doing."

Kirk, a single mom who owns a house in Oakland, was one of many protesting ahead of the meeting and demanding the board of supervisors provides resources including foreclosure prevention funding, mortgage assistance and legal help for housing providers.

"I’m only owed $15,000, but I’m going to lose my house as a result of the moratorium," said Kirk.

Another mom-and-pop property owner, Francisco Acosta, said he is out $57,000 because his tenants refuse to pay, yet the repairs and other costs add up.

"I’m just a small-time landlord," he said. "I was just making ends meet before the pandemic. I had to dip into my kids’ savings in order to make the payments and pay the property taxes."

Acosta and dozens of others said their fears have fallen on deaf ears.

ALSO SEE: Alameda County landlords owed thousands in rent, call for an end to eviction moratorium

After months of delays, supervisors held a hearing about the moratorium.

Some tenants and tenants rights advocates also spoke out in support of keeping the moratorium in place. 

But several supervisors admitted the ban should have been amended to avoid some from exploiting the ordinance for personal gain.

"We should have taken action to deal with this awhile ago," Nate Miley, president of the board of supervisors said.

Changing or ending the ordinance would require an amendment, vote and several readings before going into effect. It could take nearly two months, the county administration said.

The ban on evictions was put in place near the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to help low-income renters and those experiencing hardship. It has remained ever since.

Gov. Gavin Newsom marked the end of the coronavirus state of emergency Tuesday. As written, Alameda County’s moratorium is supposed to end 60 days later.

"End it now," Emeryville property owner Deborah Johnson said. "Enough is enough. We’re all going to be homeless soon."

Supervisors heard the pleas and recognized the struggles of the small-time landlords.

Right now, with no action taken, the eviction ban will expire at the end of April.

"It’s not just taking a financial toll on our pockets, but also mentally," Acosta said.

Even when the eviction moratorium ends, there are still concerns of what could happen next including legal actions or worries over an increasing housing and homelessness crisis.

"We need some middle ground," Kirk said. "We need to work together to create a housing solution that works for everyone, not this demonizing binary of landlord versus tenant."

Brooks Jarosz is an investigative reporter for KTVU. Email him at  brooks.jarosz@fox.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter @BrooksKTVU