City Council Passes Moratorium Halting Renter Evictions and Sweeps of Homeless Encampments

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Nikki Fortunato Bas

Responding to the economic devastation that is hitting working-class communities in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic,  the Oakland City Council has passed what may be the strongest legislation in the state banning landlords from evicting residential and commercial tenants, at least until May 31.

The ordinance sponsored by Councilmembers Nikki Fortunato Bas and Dan Kalb along with City Attorney Barbara Parker was passed at a council meeting last Friday conducted by teleconference and watched by hundreds of local residents.

“The most important thing we can do as a city, to keep people safe in their homes during the epidemic, is to make sure tenants can stay in their homes,” said Councilmember Bas.

Under the ordinance, certain rent increases of more than 3.5% are also prohibited. Tenants who are facing corona virus-related hardships cannot be charged late payments fees.  Eviction notices filed during the pandemic cannot be carried out until at least after May 31.

The moratorium can be extended if the pandemic continues past May 31.

The council also passed a resolution that asks the City Administrator to follow the Center for Disease Control interim public health guidelines on homelessness and COVID-19 to only clear homeless encampments if individual housing units or alternative shelter is provided.”

“Unless individual housing units are available, do not clear encampments during community spread of COVID-19. Clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers. This increases the potential for infectious disease spread,” according to the resolution.

Rent would still be owed after the moratorium expires.

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