San Rafael, CA – With state and federal residential eviction moratoriums in effect into this winter, the County of Marin is continuing with its own various tenant protections during the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis that has thrown many local households into financial disarray.
The Marin County Board of Supervisors received an update September 22 from the Community Development Agency (CDA) about tenant and landlord rights and requirements. The State of California’s Assembly Bill 3088 provides relief through January 31, 2021, for tenants who submit a declaration form and pay 25% of rent owed between September and January. Rent that came due between March and August, still due to landlords, will be converted to consumer debt and cannot be used as the basis for evictions. All related documents can be found on the County’s Renter and Landlord Resources webpage.
Leelee Thomas, CDA’s Housing and Federal Grants Planning Manager, provided the Board an overview of AB 3088’s parameters and requirements. She outlined the Emergency Rental Assistance Program established by the County and the Marin Community Foundation that granted nearly 1,700 local tenants with rent assistance totaling $2,577,000. Thomas also mentioned the $400,000 allotted by the Board for legal assistance to low-income renters and consumer protection mediation services from the District Attorney’s Office.
Marin’s severe shortage of affordable rental housing – even under normal circumstances – leaves many lower-paid workers at high risk for homelessness, and in turn, less equipped to mitigate the risks associated with the coronavirus. The County and its nonprofit partners created the Emergency Rental Assistance Program safety-net fund to assist the most financially vulnerable residents and prevent homelessness.
The Board’s Housing Subcommittee, comprised of Supervisors Kate Sears and Damon Connolly, plans to continue working with CDA staff and local stakeholders to study options for additional protections that could receive consideration from the larger Board.
“Essential workers, especially members of our Latinx community, have put their lives and health on the line to keep grocery stores, take-out restaurants, and service businesses open,” said Sears, who represents District 3 in southern Marin. “We must do what we can, when we can, to keep residents housed, safe, and cared for in these worrisome days. Landlords, the owners of housing resources, face struggles as well and deserve our continued, careful consideration in our ongoing, successful Landlord Partnership program. Our way forward includes the well-being of landlords and tenants.
Connolly, who represents District 1 in and around San Rafael, noted that roughly 1,675 recipients have received emergency rental assistance and more through small-business relief and tenant protections.
“We recognize that the impact of this pandemic reaches far beyond those who we serve at the County as a safety-net provider,” he said. “Among the most severely impacted are people of color who rent and serve as essential workers. We must continue to take proactive steps to prevent the displacement of people in those at-risk households, to facilitate their physical and financial recovery and our local and regional recovery.”
The Board established a temporary countywide residential eviction moratorium earlier this year and extended the protections four times. The most recent one came July 28, running the ban through September 30. After more than six months of a shelter-in-place public health order related to the coronavirus emergency, the County remains steadfast on preventing evictions when a resident experiences a sudden loss of income tied to the pandemic. If a residential tenant has not made a timely rent payment, the landlord cannot evict if the tenant provides notice within 30 days after the rent was due that the tenant is unable to pay because of financial impacts related to COVID-19.
Through the COVID-19 Fund of MCF, contributions can be earmarked for emergency rental assistance and will be leveraged for food distribution and specialized services for older adults and people with disabilities.