San Jose considers renters' protections for workers impacted by shutdown

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- As the partial government shutdown drags on, there are growing concerns about whether or not workers will be able to pay their rent. However, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo wants to help those who are impacted, by placing a temporary moratorium on evictions throughout the city.

"This is a tough enough area to live in. We have the highest housing costs in the nation. We know that renters are struggling monthly," said Liccardo.

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The ordinance would temporarily prohibit landlords from evicting a tenant if they receive a federal housing voucher, including Section 8, to help with their rent. Federal employees and contractors who haven't been paid as a result of the shutdown would also be protected.

"We talk about the housing crisis all the time. Now we have hundreds, potentially even thousands more people who are at risk of being displaced," said Matt King, who works at Sacred Heart Community Service in San Jose.

King says Sacred Heart has seen an increase in federal workers coming in to the center to learn more about any available resources. He's hopeful the city will take a bigger picture approach down the road.

"We should also be open to talking about having an eviction moratorium for all renters who are at risk of displacement in our community," said King.

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As hundreds of thousands of federal workers anticipate another week without a paycheck, the Mayor's Office says San Jose is one of the first cities across America to propose such an ordinance. The city is already moving forward with plans to offer interest-free loans for federal workers at Mineta San Jose International Airport.

The California Apartment Association, a group that represents the rental housing industry, says it would rather see the city provide interest-free loans to all individuals impacted by the shutdown, instead of passing a new ordinance. For now, they're asking landlords to be patient.

"We are confident that rental property owners will exhibit understanding under these difficult circumstances and work to keep residents in their homes," said CAA Communications Director Mike Nemeth.

Attorneys with the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley say they're ready to assist voucher recipients who are threatened with eviction.

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"Any kind of harassment of tenants, or efforts to force tenants out, even in this period of instability isn't going to be tolerated," said Michael Trujillo, a staff attorney with the foundation.

The City Council will meet for a special vote Thursday afternoon. If approved, the protections would take effect immediately and last for up to 90 days.

If you have been affected by the government shutdown, and would like to share your story, you can do so here.

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