Oakland pandemic-era eviction ban expires in July, stirs concern among renters

The pandemic-era eviction moratorium in Oakland ends on July 15. That means renters who haven't had to pay rent for the past three years because of pandemic hardship will either have to start paying on Aug. 1 or face eviction.

The change is a source of worry for housing advocacy groups, but a moment of relief for landlords.

"This is my investment," said Pamela Haile, an Oakland landlord. "They're in control of it. They're in total control of it."

Haile has been renting her Oakland home for 15 years. For the last three, she's received only $5,000 of the more than $60,000 in rent she was due.

"I still have to pay. My husband has to for the business tax, insurance, and there's no income from the house," Haile said.

Oakland was one of the last local governments to keep its pandemic eviction ban in place. Housing advocates say it was a lifeline for many people who lost work during the pandemic. But landlords say the rule caused them severe financial hardship, and they rallied against extending the ban.

In May, the City Council finally voted to end the moratorium on evictions.


Oakland to phase out eviction moratoriums in mid-July

The Oakland City Council voted 7 to 1 to phase out the eviction moratorium starting July 15.

"Just last year, there were more than 5,000 folks unhoused in Oakland," said Rev. Jeremy McCants, with the East Bay Alliance for Sustainable Economy. He fears the number will grow. "A majority of the folks we encounter we know are living paycheck to paycheck… there needs to be some pathway for folks to find relief, or at least have the option."

Housing advocates point to what happened in Alameda County. Its eviction ban ended in April. A month later, Alameda County had 500 evictions. In April, with the ban still in place, there were only 65 evictions. In May 2019, before the pandemic, there were about 300 evictions in Alameda County.

Oakland Animal Services is also concerned. So far this year, they've seen a 22% increase in people turning in their pets compared to last year.

In a recent public statement, director Ann Dunn warned of another influx: "With the eviction moratorium on rental housing in Oakland ending on July 15, I anticipate this will be an ongoing challenge and that we will continue to need more help to prevent euthanasia of adoptable dogs."

Right now, thanks to the help of foster families and the Animal Rescue Foundation, they have been able to find a place for the overflow of animals they had earlier this month. But again, they are worried about too many residents surrendering their pets later this summer when the eviction ban in Oakland expires.