Marin Organizing Committee wins renter protections during COVID-19 pandemic

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Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Marin Organizing Committee (MOC) has been strongly advocating for renter protections. Here is an overview of the events that transpired between March and September of 2020 in this regard:

March 15th – MOC sent a letter to the Marin County Board of Supervisors as well as every mayor and city council member in the county calling for a moratorium on evictions at the local level if the state failed to enact such such a ban by April 1st.

March 24th – The Marin County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve a resolution putting into effect a moratorium on evictions through May 31st.

Mid-April: MOC called upon the Board of Supervisors to adopt an ordinance that would provide tenants with a window of at least 180 days following the end of the local state of emergency to pay back rent owed to landlords. They also "urged the supervisors to take bolder action to prohibit landlords from harassing and intimidating tenants." [1]

Every month from April through July, MOC urged the Board to extend the moratorium on evictions [through members emailing their supervisors and by making statements at Board meetings]. During the April meeting of the Board of Supervisors, a dozen Spanish-speaking renters submitted their stories to be read by MOC members during the meeting, describing their struggles with affording to pay rent amidst unemployment due to the pandemic.

April 28th – The Marin County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution granting an extra 90 days for tenants to repay back rent after the moratorium on evictions was to expire on May 31st.

May 26th – The Board voted to extend the moratorium on residential evictions through June 30th.

June 24th – The moratorium was extended again, through July 31st.

July 6th – MOC held an assembly with State Senator Mike McGuire in which he committed to working with MOC to support statewide renter protections.

July 29th – The Board voted to further extend the residential eviction ban for an additional two months, through September 30th.

August – Members of MOC advocated that supervisors increase funding for legal services to assist tenants facing eviction and to "consider ways to help renters who are unable to pay back missed rent after the ban expires to 'stem the tidal wave of evictions that looms.'" [2]

MOC also held two civic academies to learn about the impending eviction crisis that Marin was facing. The meetings involved a discussion of MOC's agenda of emergency measures that the Board of Supervisors could enact to protect Marin's thousands of renter households from eviction in the following months: funding rental assistance and legal services, prohibiting evictions because of debt caused by COVID-19, giving renters a longer time frame to repay rent, and preventing rent increases during the pandemic.

Early September – MOC proposed the following five steps that supervisors should take to protect renters:

  1. Amend Marin’s eviction moratorium through December
  2. Prohibit evictions based on rental debt accrued during the coronavirus crisis
  3. Freeze rent increases and late fees during the state emergency
  4. Provide more time for renters to pay back rent
  5. Devote more funds to rental assistance and legal services [3]

September 15th – Legal Aid of Marin, a member organization of MOC, received $310,000 from Marin County to provide legal services to low-income renters and mediation of landlord-tenant disputes. Marin County supervisors also allocated $90,000 to "help underwrite neutral mediation services available to both landlords and tenants provided by the consumer protection unit of the Marin County District Attorney’s Office." [4]

Throughout the entirety of the pandemic, MOC has advocated at the city and county level for rental assistance funding, resulting in over $3 million dollars allocated so far.

Sources

1. April 21, 2020 – Marin renters allotted $1M more in pandemic aidMarin Independent Journal [pdf]
2. July 29, 2020 – Marin County extends eviction ban through SeptemberMarin Independent Journal [pdf]
3. August 30, 2020 – Marin supervisors urged to head off eviction surgeMarin Independent Journal [pdf]
4. September 15, 2020 – Marin supervisors set aside $400,000 for legal help for rentersMarin Independent Journal [pdf]

Read more from the Marin Independent Journal: