COVID19: Housing Policy

image of a blue sky and a red brick apartment building with a yellow banner through the center of the picture that reads Housing Policy & Covid19

Housing policies are changing quickly to respond to the needed tenant protections and funding sources to keep people housed and provide housing resources for people currently living outside or in jails. Below is a list of housing policy updates that affect East Bay residents and providers of non-profit housing, non-profit service providers, and non-profit housing developers.

Information for Affordable Housing Providers/Services Providers/Non-Profit Developers:

See Allhomeca.gov/covid-19 for a list of resources specific to affordable housing and services providers.

Contra Costa County:

Contra Costa County closed its Eviction Court and the Sheriff’s Department suspended all eviction enforcement until at least April 1st.

City: Concord

Concord issued a moratorium on rent increases for most units and a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent until May 31st. Tenants will be given a 90-day repayment window for each month of rent missed during the moratorium.

City: Richmond

Richmond issued a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent and no-fault reasons for the duration of the City’s State of Emergency. Specifically, tenants who are unable to pay their rent due to a loss of income related to the Coronavirus can’t be evicted. Ellis Act evictions are prohibited by this order.

City: El Cerrito

El Cerrito issued a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent until May 31st. For tenants who can demonstrate a loss of income due to COVID-19, the ordinance allows for a 6-month repayment period with no late fees before eviction is permitted.

Alameda County:

Alameda County closed its Eviction Court until April 7th and the Sheriff’s Department suspended all eviction enforcement for the time being.

On March 24, 2020, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors adopted a 30-day temporary moratorium on evictions for the unincorporated county.  Tenants must notify landlords of their inability to pay, and must provide documentation of loss of income and show that it is caused by the COVID-19 crisis (illness, caring for ill family members, layoffs, etc).  See report and ordinance here.

City: Oakland

Oakland issued a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent and no-cause reasons for all units covered by the City’s Just Cause ordinance; a moratorium on most rent increases for units subject to rent stabilization; and late fees on missed rents for all units citywide. While missed rent is not forgiven, the ordinance prohibits landlords from evicting tenants who can document a loss of income due to COVID-19 for non-payment of rent during the crisis after the emergency has passed. There is no fixed repayment period. Read answers to Frequently Asked Questions here.

City: Alameda

On March 17, 2020, the Alameda City Council passed an urgency ordinance, effective immediately and extending for 60 days, that provides all residential tenants a defense in an eviction proceeding for failure to pay rent (including the tenant’s share of the contract rent for Section 8 tenants) when the tenant is not able to pay rent due to a substantial loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Substantial loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic includes: 1) a reduction of 20% or more of monthly gross pay; 2) extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses; or (3) extraordinary child care needs. 

Landlords are also prohibited from shutting off utilities except in the case of an emergency such as an urgent repair to a water line. 

City: Berkeley

Berkeley issued a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent and no-fault reasons for the duration of the City’s State of Emergency. Specifically, tenants who are unable to pay their rent due to a loss of income related to the Coronavirus can’t be evicted. Ellis Act evictions are not included in this order.

Missed rent will still be due at the end of the State of Emergency. However, the City is creating regulations so that it may not all be due at once, allowing people some time to regain income. In the meantime, the City will spend up to $3 million on rental assistance to people whose incomes are impacted (as well as some small businesses and arts non-profits). The details of how to apply are not yet available. Members of the public are also encouraged to contribute to the fund in order to “match” and extend the City’s contribution, as of today’s date, an additional $580,000 has been contributed by the community. The details of how to apply are not yet available, however, the City is hopeful to be able to take applications by the week of 3/30. Continue to check back with the City’s website for more information.

City: Emeryville

Emeryville issued a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent among tenants who are financially impacted by the crisis. The order is in effect until May 31st. As a tenant, you must provide evidence that documents your inability to pay rent due to job loss, a reduction of work hours, business closure, missing work due to a child’s school closure, or other similar issues.

City: San Leandro

In accordance with Governor Newsom’s March 16th Executive Order, San Leandro issued a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent for tenants who can document a substantial loss of income due to COVID-19. This extends to tenants of mobile homes and RVs, as well. The order remains in effect until May 31, the expiration of the local emergency, or the expiration of the state emergency, whichever is later.

City: Hayward 

Hayward issued a 90-day moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent and no-fault reasons. During this time, landlords cannot charge late fees. Tenants are still obligated to pay missed rent at some point, but they cannot be evicted for rent missed during the moratorium until another 90 days have passed. The City also intends to roll out a program to assist tenants with paying their rents and landlords with paying their mortgages by April 15th. Impacted residents are required to provide documentation of loss of income due to COVID-19.

Note: If your city is not listed here, it is because we do not have information on any housing-related decisions your city has made. If you know your city council has made a critical housing policy decision, please email alex@ebho.org and we will update our resources. 

California

The California Public Utilities Commission issued an order requiring all privately owned water, sewer, energy, and communications providers to maintain service to all customers, including those struggling to pay their service fees due to the pandemic. In the East Bay, this includes PG&E and telecoms companies like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Comcast. These protections extend back to March 4th, when California declared a State of Emergency. In other words, if you have had trouble paying your bills since March 4th, then these companies are not allowed to cut off your service.

The East Bay Municipal Utility District has also agreed to suspend service cut offs due to non-payment until further notice. East Bay MUD and PG&E have offered to work with customers to create flexible and extended payment plans, as needed. You can find up-to-date information on the policies of all utilities here.

California Mortgages and Foreclosures & Evictions

Governor Newsom announced that most major banks have agreed to allow residential property owners impacted by the crisis to miss mortgage payments for 90 days.  In addition, he issued an executive order that pauses the enforcement of evictions for non-payment of rent until May 31st. However, in order to qualify, a tenant must notify their landlord of their inability to pay within 7 days of rent being due and maintain documentation that demonstrates a substantial loss of income due to COVID-19. While this order covers areas of the state that are not covered by a local emergency ordinance, it does not preempt local laws that provide more protections for renters, so long as those protections are in line with existing state laws.

United States

The federal stimulus bill provides $12 billion in funding for housing and homelessness, including $4 billion in Emergency Solutions Grants for homeless services and rental assistance for deeply low-income people, $5 billion in Community Development Block Grants, $1.25 billion for Section 8 voucher support, and more. You can read a full description here

In addition, the bill implements a 60-day moratorium (until May 18th) on all federally-backed mortgages, including those covered by HUD, USDA, FHA, VA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac. People in economic distress are entitled to a pause on mortgage payments for up to 180 days, with an additional 180 days upon request. If these units are rental properties, then their tenants cannot be evicted for 120 days. Similarly, multifamily housing providers with a federally-backed mortgage are entitled to a pause on mortgage payments for up to 30 days, with an additional 60 days upon request, on the condition that they agree not to evict tenants or charge late fees. The bill also calls for a temporary moratorium on evictions for most residents of federally subsidized apartments, including those supported by HUD, USDA, or Treasury (Low Income Housing Tax Credit developments).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines calling for local governments to cease sweeps of homeless encampments “unless individual housing units are available,” as sweeps have a harmful effect on unhoused people and exacerbate the spread of disease.

Get Support, Action, & Volunteer Info

See our COVID19 Action Page to learn how you can take action for expanded housing protections and funding & see what changes advocacy groups are currently pushing for.

Do you need housing, food, help getting medication, or other support as you Shelter in Place? See our list of support available during the COVID19 pandemic or our general affordable housing resources page.