The Board of Supervisors has passed a motion that would extend a pandemic-era eviction moratorium until the end of March.
Several protections for renters have been changed and extended by the board since the beginning of the pandemic and included rent assistance for tenants, grants for landlords and restrictions on eviction.
The motion was passed 3-1, with Supervisor Kathryn Barger being the only dissenting vote. Barger’s office stated there were several reasons why she voted against extending the moratorium, with one being that it simply did not do enough for landlords and that COVID-era emergency protections aren’t necessary at this point in the pandemic.
“She really believes that… covid isn’t impacting people’s ability to work. She’s heard loud and clear from many small ‘mom and pop’ landowners in particular,” said Helen Chavez, spokeswoman for Barger. “A big focal point [is] they’re losing their properties. There was a danger of having to sell and therefore exiting the housing market and that’s a bad thing that also adds to homelessness.”
Barger’s position is in stark contrast to the motion’s language, authored by Supervisors Lindsey Horvath and Hilda Solis, which attributed its necessity to the current homelessness crisis and a possible recession in the future — a scenario acknowledged in the motion.
The motion, and its authors, argued that if a recession were to happen, the local homeless services system does not have the tools to fully prevent a rise in homelessness — and it never has.
“There are still many families and individuals in the county who are struggling to recover from the financial impacts of COVID 19 and we know that we’re not just recovering from the compounded impacts of COVID-19, we’re recovering from an unjust system that existed long before COVID-19 and risked people’s housing — which has contributed to the growing homelessness crisis,” said Horvath.
“I just feel like when I hear ‘eviction moratorium extending,’ it causes me great concern. Because those that are not paying… they’re gonna go into deeper debt,” said Barger. “This has got to be a balanced approach because we’ve got to recognize that the landlords serve a purpose, too. They’re housing individuals right now, but they deserve to be paid.”