California's Expiring Eviction Moratorium Leaves Advocates Busy Helping Tenants

Some local eviction protections continue in the Bay Area while other municipalities could see more evictions starting Oct. 1

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California's eviction moratorium expires on Thursday.

For some Bay Area cities and counties, that won't change much because local protections are still in place. But in other spots, like Contra Costa County, evictions could start Friday when the state moratorium ends.

Wednesday was crunch time for groups like legal services agency Centro Legal De La Raza. Staff members at the agency have been busy trying to get information out to tenants in the East Bay.

For some Bay Area cities and counties, the expiring eviction moratorium won't change much because local protections are still in place. But in other spots, like Contra Costa County, evictions could start Friday. Alyssa Goard reports.

"We’re doing outreach pretty widely in Contra Costa County," said Reetu Mody, managing attorney at Centro Legal De La Raza. "We are trying to reach specifically non-English speakers, if we can low-income folks, people of color, people with disabilities, people who may have accessibility issues."

She noted that in nearby Alameda County, an eviction moratorium remains in place, protecting tenants who haven't paid their rent [with few exceptions].

"And then you move over to Contra Costa County and those protections are no longer available," she noted.

Mody said her organization is still waiting to see how the eviction process -- and the state protections that remain for tenants -- will play out in the courts. In the meantime, she and her colleagues are fielding questions from renters.

"Every single call we get from Contra Costa County, every single one, every single tenant is worried [saying] 'What's going to happen to me Oct. 1? I don't suddenly have a job, I can't suddenly get over my sickness, I can't suddenly pay rent, '" Mody said.

Concord-based nonprofit Monument Impact is also working around the clock, trying to educate tenants about their rights. Like Centro Legal De La Raza, Monument Impact is telling tenants to protect themselves from eviction by applying for California's COVID-19 Rent Relief program. Under the state protections, qualified low-income tenants who apply for this relief can have their eviction paused while their application is pending.

"We’re trying to prevent tenants from not just being evicted, but we’re still in the middle of a COVID crisis," Monument Impact Executive Director Debra Ballinger said.

The rent and utility relief application can be found on the state's website. People can also find more housing resources here. You can also apply and receive more information over the phone about this program by calling 833-430-2122.

This rent relief is available for people who are undocumented. People can quality regardless of immigration status and they will not be asked to show proof of citizenship.

Monument Impact is a local partner for the state rent relief, meaning its staff helps Bay Area residents navigate the application for relief. Ballinger said her team is fully booked with appointments right now to help tenants apply.

"It's frightening right now, we are getting calls all the time," she emphasized, "actually we may have to hire another person [to meet the level of need]."

The group is worried evicted tenants will have trouble finding a new place to live.

"As we know, there’s been a housing crisis in the Bay Area for a very long time," Ballinger noted.

East Bay tenant advocates said the City of Richmond stands out in Contra Costa County for having some eviction protections which will continue after Oct. 1. Charles Oshinuga, a staff attorney for the City of Richmond, explained that Richmond's rules protect against many (but not all) kinds of evictions. To learn more about what protections are available there, the city recommends calling 510-234-RENT (7368) or filling out a form to speak with their staff.

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