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As Eviction Filings Resume, Tenants Demand More Protections

KPBS - Landlords can begin filing evictions in San Diego housing court Monday for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Landlords weren’t the only ones at the courthouse — a group of tenants also made the trip to housing court in downtown San Diego, saying a new state law meant to protect them doesn’t go far enough.

“If they kick me out of my house, where I’ve been living for four years, where am I going to go? Am I going to live in this van with my kids, and be more vulnerable to COVID?,” said Patricia Mendoza, a tenant who’s part of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE). Mendoza has been fighting for the rights of tenants, including herself, for months now.


In her run for City Council, Fife pushes back on the institutional barriers to Black people that come from a history of oppression.

The Appeal - Carroll Fife, a longtime activist in Oakland, California, is running for City Council on a broad platform promising to address injustice and racial inequities across the city. It’s part of what she describes as a long overdue program of dismantling systems of racial oppression that have lingered in America for decades since the civil rights movement.

“My perspective of the U.S. is this country has never atoned for the original sin of having people enslaved and used as property,” said Fife, executive director of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment Oakland. “Everything we’re experiencing today is a result of not addressing that.” 

Fife’s platform pushes back on the institutional barriers to Black people that come from a history of oppression. Cat Brooks, a 2018 mayoral candidate and co-founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project, praised Fife as one of the city’s fiercest campaigners and said the City Council campaign is a chance to capitalize on the work done by local activists for years. Fife has the “right platform and the right message” for the current moment, said Brooks, and her policy priorities reflect a realistic response to the challenges faced by Oaklanders and the country as a whole. 


Moms 4 Housing-inspired bill becomes California law

San Jose Mercury News - A bill signed into law this week prevents corporations from scooping up too much of California’s valuable housing stock — a shift that could help shape how the state’s housing market weathers the COVID-fueled economic crisis.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed SB 1079 into law this week — one of several housing protection or production-focused bills to make it off his desk. SB 1079, which was inspired by the Oakland activist group Moms 4 Housing, prevents corporations from snapping up bundles of homes during foreclosure auctions. Instead, it gives tenants and families an opportunity to buy them individually.

With the coronavirus pandemic pushing national mortgage default rates higher than they’ve been in years, the new state law could prove especially impactful.

California’s rent strike: Who pays and how it works

CalMatters - As the pandemic stretches into its seventh month, tenants and landlords have found themselves facing the same question: Who’s going to pay the rent if unemployment continues to hover north of 11%?

After the California Supreme Court’s eviction moratorium expired Sept. 1, Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers extended protections for residential renters and forestalled evictions until Feb. 1 for people who declared that they lost income due to the coronavirus pandemic. Without a larger national bailout, the state deal is essentially a short-term fix that will convert back rent to civil debt, meaning landlords will still be able to pursue repayment in small claims court.

What this means for renters is that while they get to stay in their homes, the debt keeps piling up. 

'War on Us': Black Women Rally in Oakland for Breonna Taylor

KQED - They raised their voices in anger, pain and poetry, speaking words of protest and calling for action in the wake of a Kentucky grand jury’s decision not to charge any Louisville police officers for the death of Breonna Taylor.

One after another, Black women representing Bay Area community organizing groups weighed in Thursday morning during a rally in front of an Oakland mural honoring Taylor at 15th and Broadway.

“Breonna Taylor did not die in a vacuum. She died inside of a paradigm in this country where the lives of Black women and girls do not matter,” said Cat Brooks, one of the event’s organizers and co-founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project.


L.A. County launches legal aid program for tenants at risk of eviction

The county has partnered with legal aid groups and community-based organizations that will host virtual Know Your Rights workshops about permanent and emergency tenant protections covering evictions and other challenges.

LA Daily News - Los Angeles County launched a program on Monday, Sept. 14, to provide free legal services to tenants facing eviction during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As many residents face immeasurable uncertainty and grapple with health, mental health and economic hurdles, we want to provide working families with as much stability and peace of mind as possible,” Supervisor Kathryn Barger said. “By equipping at-risk tenants with the resources they need, Los Angeles County can ensure they stay safe, stay strong, and stay housed.”

Earlier this month, the Board of Supervisors extended a moratorium on evictions through Oct. 31, and each member expressed their strong support for the legal aid program. Dubbed “Stay Housed L.A. County,” the countywide initiative includes a website with information about tenant rights, workshops for residents who need legal assistance and other support, including professional legal support.

Poetry for Protest: A new anthology benefits Oakland's Moms4Housing

7 X 7 - On December 26, 2019, Sara Biel and her daughter joined a protest against the eviction of three mothers—Dominique Walker, Misty Cross, and Sameerah Karim—and their children, from a house on Magnolia Street in Oakland.

In November, with the support of Moms4Housing, a collective working toward pragmatic solutions to Oakland's housing crisis, the women had moved into the unlocked house, which had been vacant for two years. Working people who could not afford housing in Oakland, they squatted in a public and intentional manner, seeking to find a way to enter a housing market that has been manipulated by corporate developers.

"That they were being evicted at seven in the morning on the day after Christmas was straight out of the Scrooge playbook," said Biel, who is a psychiatric social worker, poet, and co-editor of Colossus:Home, a new poetry anthology that will raise funds for Moms4Housing.

California’s Non-Moratorium Moratorium

The American Prospect - Among the states dealing with an expiring eviction moratorium was California. Yesterday, an eviction deal that was announced last Friday secured final passage before the end of the legislative session, and got signed by the governor minutes before the August 31 expiration date. Gavin Newsom called it “a bridge to a more permanent solution,” urging federal support.

Activists are calling it a bridge to nowhere. The moratorium, extended to February 1, 2021, only kicks in for renters who can show hardship due specifically to COVID-19. Tenants must pay at least 25 percent of new rent (not the arrears before September 1) to be eligible. Housing courts will reopen statewide tomorrow, as other types of evictions besides non-payment of rent can move forward.