Santa Clara County supervisors consider extending eviction moratorium through September

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Members of the Santa Clara County board of supervisors are meeting Tuesday to consider ways to extend certain protections for those impacted by the novel coronavirus crisis. But even with the current eviction moratorium in place, some residents wonder how they'll ever be able to pay back the rent they already owe.

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Local entrepreneurs are also feeling the pinch as they try to renegotiate the terms of their leases in order to keep their businesses open. In Mountain View, Flights, a popular restaurant chain with multiple locations throughout the Bay Area, now sits empty after on-going negotiations between the tenant and the landlord abruptly came to a halt.

"We were going back and forth. I pleaded my case, they pleaded theirs, and I said, 'I can't afford that,' and I offered a very fair deal," said Flights owner and operator Alex Hult, who was then served with a lawsuit by the landlord. "I was at work and my wife called me crying and said someone was banging on the door and she thought it was someone coming to arrest her."

That type of retaliation is what the county board of supervisors may try to prevent as they consider expanding the eviction moratorium through September.

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"Our job, really, is to be as protective as we can of our community and that requires all of us, so it's not just government. It's government, it's non-profits, it's the business community," said Supervisor Cindy Chavez, who also serves as president of the board. "We're really asking everything to work together."

In addition to the impact on local businesses, a recent study co-authored by the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley found that more than 43,000 families countywide will be at risk of homelessness if current protections aren't extended.
Sandy Perry, a tenant rights advocate with the Affordable Housing Network, says more needs to be done in terms of offering rent forgiveness.

"With the pandemic, and the layoffs related to the pandemic... people are absolutely destitute," said Perry. "They have no way to pay the back rents."

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Property owners are also asking for assistance and say they too need to be a part of the conversation. Some have gone months without receiving payment from their tenants and are now at risk of foreclosure themselves.

"A lot of them are trying to do everything they can to support their tenants through this time of need... deferring payments, waiving late fees, but at the same time, the bills have to be paid, and they're struggling to find out how they're going to pay it without their rental assistance coming in," said Anil Babbar, vice president of public affairs for the California Apartment Association.

Maria Marroquin, Executive Director of Day Workers of Mountain View, is a member of the community group Mountain View Tenants Coalition.

The group formed in 2015 due to high rents and people being pushed out and living in their cars.

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Marroquin thinks it's a no brainer the board will pass an extension.

"There's no way, in my view, the moratorium ends on August 31. I cannot imagine if anyone wants to have that as a result. So people living in the street more than usual, so there's no way in my view, it's not possible," Marroquin said.

She feels that the extension is not the solution, but it's a start.

"The moratorium ends in September, and then you have six months after that but you are not sure if you have jobs, how are you going to be able to pay? So the moratorium is not a solution in this," Marroquin said.

She also added that landlords will need help as well, "We have small landlords who really are dependent on the rent - just to pay the mortgage. So then it's another thing that we also need to work."

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