State law offers little help to tenants who have difficulty in San Jose

California has expanded evacuation defenses to millions of residents, but supporters fear it is too little and too late to help thousands of San Jose residents on the verge of losing their homes.

Deputy Governor Eleni Konalakis, who works in the absence of Governor Gavin Newsum, recently signed legislation to temporarily protect California residents from eviction for past rent, if they seek financial assistance from the state before March 31. In advance, these tenants cannot be evicted. From their homes for old rent, but can be evicted due to non-payment of rent in the coming months. Tenants who have not applied for state relief do not receive protection under the new law, which runs until June 30.

Housing advocates say the law offers little protection to tenants who have struggled with job loss and economic uncertainty during the plague. They say that after months of anticipation, California may finally be on the verge of a major wave of evictions.

“I do think we may be facing the tsunami that everyone is continuing to talk about – I think we may finally, unfortunately, be at this point,” Nadia Aziz, a housing attorney at Silicon Valley Law Firm, told San Jose Spotlight.

More than 10,000 households in San Jose are still waiting to receive money for rent relief requests, according to state data. About 60% of San Jose applicants earn 30% of the median income in the area – less than $ 50,000.

The average rent for these families was $ 1,800, said Emily Hislop, director of housing and planning policy in the city.

“I think it can be said that most of this population that is in this income bracket is in the rent burden,” she told San Jose Spotlight. She added that the evacuation help center in the city was quiet earlier this week, but speculated that it might be busier when tenants start receiving messages from their landlords.

Local protections

San Jose offers some protection to vulnerable tenants. Last month the city council approved an eviction diversion plan that would use federal funds to help tenants pay homeowners for rent back or otherwise resolve eviction claims.

Some supporters would like to see a sweeping ban on evictions in San Jose, similar to the state law that expired last October. But the state’s current legislation prevents local jurisdictions from transferring their eviction mortars.

“That’s why no group of tenants I know actively supported the bill in the way it passed,” Shanti Singh, director of communications and legislation for the Tenants Together advocacy group, told San Jose Spotlight. “We all very much did not support it, in fact.”

According to her, cities can still pass orders that will help tenants, such as rules prohibiting landlords from illegally harassing tenants to leave their homes or introduce rent control.

San Jose has made no move to provide additional legal protections to tenants, so the burden falls on legal aid groups. Aziz said the Silicon Valley Justice Foundation is already seeing signs that the coming months will be busy: last Friday the foundation submitted 15 calls; On Monday he received 52.

Aziz said tenants should try to pay their rent in April and stay at home. She added that the law enforcement has heard of landlords locking people out of their homes illegally or forcing them to leave. She called on tenants to document communication with their landlords and ask for assistance if they receive eviction notices.

“Our goal is to connect tenants to a certain level of assistance, get them a certain level of advice,” Aziz said, noting that the law firm has worked with the court on an eviction diversion plan and wants to get more pro bono lawyers to help with the issue. Evacuation files. “We’re looking at a bunch of different things to try to deal with the crisis.”

There is widespread concern among supporters that it will be difficult for tenants to find permanent stability, even if they escape the immediate threat of eviction.

Samara Meir-Levy, who was forced to move out of her apartment in Palo Alto after the landlord decided to renovate, said she was able to move into a home in Mountain View. She is waiting to see if her daughter will be eligible for financial aid in her kindergarten. If she does not do so, Meir-Levy said she will have to pay her value-pay twice a month.

Meir-Levy told San Jose Spotlight that her situation was less serious than it was months ago when she was unemployed and examined the rent bills she could not pay. But she recognizes that things can change quickly.

“You can find a job and get along fine, but we all know that with health insurance and medical care what it is, most of us have one big illness or a bad diagnosis from bankruptcy,” she said.

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