A California state lawmaker said he would introduce legislation to temporarily ban evictions and home foreclosures for residents who can’t pay the bills because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, said the bill would keep Californians sheltered as long as they prove the coronavirus has affected their household financially.
“Before the coronavirus, homelessness was the thing people were talking about,” Ting said. “The last thing we want is the virus to exacerbate the problem.”
The legislation would be a similar to San Jose’s 30-day eviction moratorium, Ting said, but would include foreclosure restrictions so landlords and property owners are protected.
The stock market has plummeted over the past two weeks, and certain industries are hurting as people stay home and adjust their habits to avoid getting sick.
Under Ting’s proposal, tenants before their rent is due would have to notify their landlords and provide documentation that explains how the coronavirus has affected their income.
Ting said that as California responds to the crisis on an hour-by-hour basis, his legislation could give residents some reassurance that they won’t lose their homes.
“Every 12 hours it’s changing. We’re trying just to create a measure of normalcy during this crisis,” he said. “We think the last thing that should happen while we fight this crisis that’s sort of taken over California is putting people on the streets.”
The city of Sacramento also introduced a relief package on Thursday that includes an eviction ban for residential and business tenants who can’t pay rent during the outbreak.
Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, also called for a federal and statewide injunction on evictions and foreclosures that protects both renters and businesses.
Wiener said that Californians should not be forced to decide between the virus or an eviction.
“As we move through the COVID-19 emergency, people must be able to focus on our community’s health — slowing the virus’s spread,” he said in a statement, “and not on economic survival.”
The novel coronavirus includes mild to severe symptoms generally marked by a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Older individuals and those with health conditions like heart and lung disease and diabetes are at higher risk of contracting the illness.
The California Department of Public Health has recorded 198 positive cases of and four deaths due to COVID-19 as of Thursday, though testing has been limited. Another 11,100 people who have returned from the United States from traveling are “self-monitoring.”
Both Democrats and Republicans have this week asked Gov. Gavin Newsom to consider ways to help California’s workers hit hardest by the virus’ economic impact.
Assembly Republican Leader Marie Waldron urged Newsom in a Thursday letter to borrow $2 billion from the state’s High Speed Rail surplus tax revenues and temporarily expand the state’s paid family leave program to help workers who face quarantine or have to care for family members and children.
Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, said her office was working with the governor and the Assembly to build “figure out ways to assist workers, small businesses and families who find themselves harmed economically by necessary efforts to mitigate the coronavirus.”