CSAC Bulletin Article

COVID-19 Related Housing Relief for Mortgagors
Legislators and Advocates Call for Statewide Relief for Tenants

March 26, 2020

Governor Newsom announced a major financial relief package on March 25 for homeowners with mortgages held by Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo or nearly 200 state-chartered banks, credit unions, and servicers. Californians economically impacted by COVID-19 will benefit from a 90 day grace period (30 days for Bank of America customers) to make mortgage payments without fees or having their credit reports impacted.

On March 13, a bicameral group of Democratic legislators requested a variety of actions by Governor Newsom and Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye related to homelessness and housing security as impacted by COVID-19, including a moratorium on evictions. Apartment owners indicated their preference for a statewide approach to COVID-related eviction protections, but only if “accompanied by public dollars to assist tenants in paying their rent or to assist property owners in paying their mortgage.” Moreover, they requested that “in cases where rent can’t be repaid by a tenant, public money should be made available to assist tenants and rental owner.”

Approximately 140 housing advocacy groups have also called on Newsom to enact additional statewide tenant protections, including requests for a “suspension of rents and mortgages.” View that March 20 letter here.

Responding yesterday to questions about a statewide eviction moratorium including a follow-up letter on March 25 from over 30 legislators, Governor Newsom explained that his team is reviewing all the legal ramifications of such an order, and he continued to encourage local government officials to review his Executive Order N-28-20 and take action independently.

As of March 24, eighteen county Boards of Supervisors have now approved restrictions on residential evictions related to economic impacts from COVID-19: Alameda, Los Angeles, Marin, Monterey, Nevada, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco City and County, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Sonoma, and Yolo. Many of these ordinances or resolutions apply to both residential and commercial tenancies; several apply to both the unincorporated area and within cities. In several additional counties, Sheriffs have suspended all new evictions.

Legislators have also announced bills that would prohibit commercial evictions of small businesses and nonprofits impacted by COVID-19 (SB 939, Wiener) and enact a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures for people fiscally affected by COVID-19 (AB 828, Ting). Amendments to the latter bill are still pending.

CSAC and the County Counsels Association are following this issue closely and collecting county ordinances and resolutions on this topic. If you would like to review the measures adopted by other counties, or have a local measure to share, please contact Chris Lee.

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