Advocates push to save tenants from evictions
By Diane Anderson
A few weeks before the holidays, some tenants in the Inland Empire fear they are almost out because of eviction notices from the end of the moratorium on September 30.
But if the tenant’s papers are in order, the most their landlords can do is huff and puff. They cannot expel.
Felicia Brown-Smith said there has been a lot of confusion about the process.
Beginning October 1, tenants can be given notice of payment or departure, but landlords must enroll in California’s COVID-19 Rent Relief Program before they can evict. She said her organization was seeing more and more landlords trying to apply for unpaid rent related to COVID-19.
“For lack of a better term – they can harass people – they can give them a salary or quit, but even if they give notice to pay or quit, they can’t legally kick you out without first doing an application to the program, ”said Brown-Smith, CEO and Executive Director of Neighborhood Housing Services of the Inland Empire.
And, if homeowners attempt other unscrupulous measures, like shutting down utilities or blocking access rather than going through legal proceedings, they can also face hefty fines.
NHSIE Housing Advisors are on hand to help tenants and make appointments, educate them about their rights, what they are entitled to and review the documents they need to protect themselves.
They will call back all callers.
Until recently, San Bernardino County ran a program that allowed eviction assistance requests through the county, while others applied through the state. It was announced last week that everyone now has to go through the state to submit nominations
“It’s great because it’s going to streamline the process and help people not be so confused,” Brown-Smith said.
Rental assistance is available and the NHSIE has done canvassing and set up tables and kiosks for community outreach. Tenants and landlords can apply, and their program is in partnership with the state.
Last week, she said her housing counselors were full with a surge in calls for help.
“There were so many people looking for help. I would definitely encourage people to call us. If they have transportation or health issues, we will go into the community to meet with them to make sure they get the help they need, ”she said.
San Bernardino County Fifth District Supervisor Joe Baca Jr. also encourages residents to take advantage of the state’s grace period until March 31, 2022 to avoid evictions.
“I encourage residents of communities in the Fifth District to seek tenant assistance available from various state organizations. The fifth district has residents who may need such assistance. These resources would help our community avoid an eviction cliff that could have seen thousands of tenants on the streets and a complete disruption in California’s recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic, ”he said.
Meanwhile, many tenants were already facing evictions before the pandemic, and homelessness could be around the corner.
The Organized Congregations for Prophetic Commitment (COPE) call on elected state and local leaders to do more to prevent widespread evictions and homelessness.
“Our communities have suffered the highest rates of job loss and COVID infection and have suffered alarming and disproportionate loss of life, while being the hardest hit by the ongoing housing crisis in our state.” , COPE said in a statement.
COPE is partnering with Housing Now CA, a coalition of over 60 organizations, to promote legislation to tackle unfair rent increases and evictions.
Felicia Jones, associate director of COPE, said civic leaders must adopt swift relocation measures for those currently at risk of eviction, but may not get help in time. Resources are now available to bring people into affordable housing, but she said that requires political will.
One example is how the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors enacted the Ancillary Housing Units Order, smaller individual units, to address housing access issues. Recently, COPE organized a town hall on rental assistance focused on advancing policy by working with city authorities and local representatives.
She worries about the thousands of disproportionate black and brown tenants who were in the process of being evicted before the moratorium and who are still in danger.
“These will now move forward. They may have been eligible for rental assistance, but all of this requires the landlord’s cooperation, ”she said. “There have been concerns about the rights of people violated. “
COPE is ready to work with city and county officials to promote alternative housing and temporary living solutions, such as ADUs, as well as to reassess local zoning to help the availability of long-term affordable housing, a she declared.
“We need our civic leaders to talk to the community and housing justice advocates to advise on these issues. These solutions can and should come in partnership with the community, ”Jones said.
Sonya Gray-Hunn said that when tenants are evicted or evicted from their homes, rent caps and controls are removed and rental homes skyrocket to market rents, which also depletes the housing supply. fair.
Worse yet, she said many tenants never received their rent to pay their landlords. Tenants are supposed to be protected until March 2022, but she finds other serious factors to consider.
“Tenants do not receive the funds [to pay the rent], or the owners don’t want to wait for funds, ”said Gray-Hunn, COPE program coordinator. “How do we hold our city and county supervisors accountable for delivering a solution?
Some landlords will not accept the funds and many low income renters will not be able to find affordable housing at market prices.
“If a landlord refuses financing, how can we [prevent] a family to become homeless? Where is the safety net that the city is putting in place for residents waiting for allocated funds? she said.
For local help with rent or evictions, contact NHSIE at https://www.nhsie.org or call (909) 884 6891
For COPE community action, see https://copesite.org/
For the statewide application process, visit HousingIsKey.com or call (833) 430-2122.