Tenants Protest Mosser Capital by Staging a Protest at CEO Neveo Mosser’s Home

Tenants living in several buildings owned by real estate investment firm Mosser Capital, created a car caravan to “call on their landlord to commit to no evictions, no rent increases and to end tenant harassment for the duration of the pandemic,” according to a press release from May 23.

The caravan was part of a national day of action calling on Congress to shift the burden of pay to corporate landlords such as Mosser Capital and provide financial support to smaller property owners. Tenants from 12 of the 20 buildings owned by Mosser Capital are on rent strike as a result of the current pandemic.

CEO Neveo Mosser was previously sued by the City of San Francisco for forcing single-room occupancy (SRO) tenants to move rooms, thus preventing them from gaining tenants rights. Activists say Mosser is making questionable use of Oakland’s Capital Improvements loophole to sharply increase rents.

Mosser Capital did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

— Lakshmi Sarah (Lakitalki)

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Oakland Protesters Demand More Homeless Be Placed in Hotels During Pandemic

With the door jammed with glue, and her head locked to the motel window, Stefani Echevarría-Fenn barricaded herself in a room at the Palms Motel in Oakland on Friday afternoon.

She and supporters have been paying to house 14 homeless people in hotels for the past few weeks. But their money is running out, and they want the city of Oakland to step in.

"We have had a small army of volunteers trying to access the hotel rooms that the city claims are available for unhoused folks, but the bureaucratic red tape is immense," Echevarría-Fenn said.

She said she fears that the women currently staying there — many of whom are older and have serious health conditions — could be in danger if they have to resume living on the street.

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Justin Berton, a spokesman for Mayor Libby Schaaf's office, said it's Alameda County — not the city of Oakland — that is in charge of housing homeless residents in hotels. But he did note that Oakland recently opened additional trailers for 130 homeless residents.

County officials confirmed in an email to KQED that no rooms are currently available for medically compromised or older homeless people. "We know the need is far greater than our resources, and we're working tirelessly to secure more rooms," said Jerri Randrup with the county's health care services agency.

— Molly Solomon (@solomonout)

State Guidelines for Reopening Places of Worship Coming by Monday, Newsom Says

California officials will unveil guidelines by Monday, at the latest, for reopening places of worship, Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Friday.

During a briefing at a veterans home in the Napa Valley town of Yountville, Newsom said his administration was finalizing details on rules to allow churches, mosques, synagogues and other houses of worship statewide to begin offering modified in-person services. He did not, however, give a specific timeline for when those services could actually resume.

"It’s so important that folks understand we deeply understand, admire, the faith devotion," Newsom said, noting that his office has been discussing the issue with faith leaders across the state. "We look forward to churches reopening in a safe and responsible manner."

California is one of 10 states to bar in-person religious gatherings of any form as part of its ongoing shelter-in-place order to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Newsom's announcement came just after President Donald Trump declared places of worship "essential" and threatened to "override" governors if they refused to allow churches to open "right now" — although it's unclear if he has authority to do so. Newsom was warned this week by Trump’s Justice Department that the state’s phased-in plan to restart economic activity puts an “unfair burden” on worship by not permitting churches to open earlier in the process.

More than 1,200 California pastors — primarily from evangelical congregations — are planning to restart worship on May 31 despite Newsom’s orders.

State officials “don’t understand that people of faith need contact, that they need to worship together,” said Danny Carroll of Water of Life Community Church in Fontana, one of the pastors leading the call to reopen. “We’re trying to close the gap — thoughtfully, humbly, nicely.”

— Matthew Green (@MGreenKQED) with additional reporting from the Associated Press.

State Launches Awareness Campaign to Recruit Contact Tracers

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Friday the launch of a public awareness campaign for the state's COVID-19 case investigation program.

The state launched a partnership with UCSF and UCLA earlier this month to begin training thousands of COVID-19 contact tracers in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus.

The "California Connected" public awareness campaign will include radio and social media ads, billboards and videos in multiple languages. It's intended to get state residents to "answer the call" when their local public health department reaches out to recruit them as a contact tracer, according to Newsom.

"That simple action of answering the call could save lives and help keep our families and communities healthy," Newsom said.

The governor has said the state hopes to train roughly 20,000 contact tracers by the first week of July through the partnership program and disperse them throughout all 58 counties. The state has received some $5.1 million in private financial support to spur the campaign and reach the 20,000-tracer goal.

The state's 61 public health departments have roughly 3,000 contact tracers already in the field, according to Newsom. More than 500 have already been trained through the state's program as well, with another 300 scheduled to soon complete the 20-hour course.

— Bay City News

California's Small Businesses Just Received the Most PPP Funding in the US

California has received more money than any other state in Paycheck Protection Program funding, according to mid-May numbers from the Small Business Administration.

Noah Yosif, assistant vice president for economic policy and research and deputy chief economist at the Independent Community Bankers of America, said that fund distribution makes perfect sense to him.

"A lot of these small businesses were able to get into the second round," Yosif said. "States that had a large small business presence, like California, were unable to be served during round one. [During the second round] where there's small businesses, there should be more PPP loans."

According to the SBA, California had about 4 million small businesses in 2019 — making up 99.8% of businesses in the state.

Businesses that were approved for the loan have eight weeks to spend 75% of it on payroll. But some shelter-in-place restrictions have prohibited businesses from opening. Jeff Bellisario, executive director of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, said non-essential businesses are impacted the most by these restrictions, and their recovery will be likely be slow.

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"I think you're going to see many small businesses going out of business and potentially having an impact then on the banking system," Bellisario said.

Read the full story from KQED's Adhiti Bandlamudi here.

Newsom: California Not Conflating Viral and Antibody Tests

During a noon coronavirus briefing, Gov. Gavin Newsom said California is not conflating swab tests that diagnose current coronavirus infections with antibody test results that measure whether someone has ever had the virus.

"One-and-a-half million tests have now been conducted" in California, he said. "Those are PCR tests, not the antibody tests. There are some states, lovingly I say this, that are conflating the antibody tests and PCR tests. We're not."

News reports have found Pennsylvania, Texas, Georgia, Vermont and other states have lumped the tests together.

Earlier this week, the Atlantic confirmed reporting from Miami public radio station WLRN that found the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listing the results of both viral and antibody tests under one category called "testing."

"The upshot is that the government’s disease-fighting agency is overstating the country’s ability to test people who are sick with COVID-19," Alexis Madrigal and Robinson Meyer wrote in the Atlantic.

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-Kevin Stark (@starkkev)

State Credits Early Action in Preventing COVID-19 Outbreaks in Veterans Homes

Across the U.S., facilities that provide long-term care to elderly or disabled veterans have become hotspots for outbreaks of COVID-19.

But, so far, tragic flare-ups have been avoided at veterans homes in California, an achievement touted by Gov. Gavin Newsom in a Friday visit to the Veterans Home of California-Yountville in Napa County.

"That's because of the seriousness of purpose that was advanced weeks before California's stay-at-home order was put into place," Newsom said.

Staff across California's eight veterans homes began scaling up their cleaning and distancing practices in February and barred visitors beginning March 15, four days before Newsom announced his statewide order.

The latest data from the state's Department of Veterans Affairs show just three coronavirus cases and two deaths among the nearly 2,100 residents in the system.

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"I’m delighted that we have such success in protecting the wonderful men and women who are our connection to our past," said Dr. Vito Imbasciani, the department's secretary.

Newsom's visit to the Yountville facility, on the cusp of Memorial Day weekend, comes a day after his administration was criticized for a budget proposal to close a veterans home in Barstow, in San Bernardino County, within the next two years.

“I want to make sure that this is done in the most delicate and sensitive way because you’re transforming and changing people's lives," said state Sen. Anna Caballero, D-Salinas, who recommended the Legislature reject the proposal.

CalVet officials pointed to ongoing challenges in finding staff and residents for the home, and noted that the facility did not meet department criteria for providing appropriate levels of care, or being close to a large veteran population or VA medical facility.

— Guy Marzorati (@GuyMarzorati)