"[The governor] punted responsibility to over-burdened counties and cities to deal with this problem themselves, when, in my opinion, they should be focusing on delivering emergency services to their citizens," said Meghan Gordon, director of housing practice for the East Bay Community Law Center.
The executive order, which will remain in effect until May 31, also requests that banks and other financial institutions delay foreclosures if a mortgage holder’s inability to pay is related to lost wages caused by the coronavirus.
By Monday evening, 392 people were confirmed to have tested positive for COVID-19 in California, including more than 250 in the Bay Area. Newsom said Monday evening that one of the eight deaths in the state so far was a person experiencing homelessness in Santa Clara County.
State Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, said he plans to file a bill this week that would go further than the governor’s order and freeze evictions statewide for a period of up to one year or as long as the governor’s state of emergency is in place.
“One of the ways we can minimize the effects of the virus is to reduce human contact,” Ting said. “Human contact is not reduced when people have to live on the street, oftentimes in very crowded, unsanitary conditions.”
Ting added, “If people have a home, we want to keep them in their home.”
The calls to halt evictions come amid a shelter-in-place order for six Bay Area counties, including Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara. Santa Cruz County is also ordering residents to shelter at home. The orders restrict most residents to their residences for anything but essential activities, such as visiting a grocery store, picking up prescriptions or caring for a loved one.
And on Monday, the San Francisco and Alameda County sheriff’s offices said they would stop enforcing all evictions as residents are told to shelter in place. The Alameda County Superior Court on Monday also said it would close all of its courthouses.
Sgt. Ray Kelly, a spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, said it’s counterproductive to enforce evictions while also operating an emergency management center that is seeking vacant hotel rooms for people who are homeless and who need to self-isolate during the current outbreak.
“We’re in an unprecedented time,” he said. “Right now, we’re concerned about the most vulnerable people in our community, and a lot of those people are people who ultimately end up in the eviction process.”