Supervisors told that without intervention, ‘mass evictions’ will begin Feb. 1
Posted on January 5, 2021 by Sonoma Valley Sun
With state and federal rules restricting evictions set to expire on January 31, a coalition of Sonoma County advocacy groups is asking the Board of Supervisors to extend the ban throughout entire the COVID-19 crisis.
“Ensuring that people can remain stably housed in the middle of a pandemic is not only a moral imperative,” stated the Alliance for a Just Recovery, a 30-group coalition. “It’s a public health necessity.”
“Tenants are again being evicted for no-fault reasons and minor lease violations,” said a letter and petition circulated by the Alliance, which formed after the 2017 fires. “We have already seen a rise in eviction case filings in Sonoma County in September and October, and daily COVID-19 cases are now higher than ever before.”
Among the organizations backing the ban are the Sonoma County Democratic Party, the North Bay Labor Council, St. Joseph Health, Sonoma County Conservation Action, and the Sonoma County Tenants Union. Early supporters of the ban include Legal Aid of Sonoma County, the Sonoma Valley Housing Group, and the North Bay Organizing Project.
Other supporting groups include North Bay Jobs With Justice, Graton Day Labor Center, Sunrise Movement Sonoma County, Health Professionals for Equity and Community Empowerment, the Sonoma United Methodist Church, and individual members of a number of other county organizations.
Many of the groups petitioned the Board by email before its first meeting of the year, which will discuss a possible eviction ban. While applauding the state legislature’s partial ban on evictions, which ends January 31, the letter circulated by the Alliance for a Just Recovery urged that much more must be done to protect Sonoma County renters from mass eviction.
“Evictions risk lives, push families deeper into poverty, and further strain our public health system,” it said. “Removing someone from their home makes it exceedingly difficult for them to shelter in place or comply with social distancing precautions.
The campaign also calls for the Board to extend the right to counsel to renters facing eviction and to prohibit late fees during the pandemic.
A number of groups added their own concerns to the general letter. The Sonoma County Democratic Party asked for the ban to extend 90 days after the official end of the pandemic, for example, while Sonoma’s Methodist Church voiced concern for “mom-and-pop” landlords who depend on rental income.