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Santa Clara County acts with $5M to relieve strain on tenants, landlords

Fund intend to help residents pay 25% of back rent by Jan. 31

On Sept. 22, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors approved spending $5 million to help tenants financially struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic to pay their landlords. Embarcadero Media file photo by Veronica Weber.

Struggling tenants and landlords impacted by COVID-19 may be eligible for a financial lifeline, as the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, on Tuesday, unanimously approved an additional $5 million to help residents stay in their homes and landlords pay their bills.

"We are surgically targeting this $5 million to help the most vulnerable families pay enough rent to avoid the 'eviction time bomb' when the eviction moratoriums expire," said Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President Cindy Chavez.

The state's eviction moratorium requires residential tenants to pay at least 25% of their back rent by Jan. 31, 2021 to avoid eviction.

To help tenants make that 25% payment, the county will use the $5 million to directly pay the landlords.

More than 43,000 households are at risk of eviction in the county when the eviction moratoriums expire, according to a study done by nonprofit Working Partnerships USA and the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley.

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Another part of the effort is an expansion of services by the county's Office of Mediation and Ombuds Services, which helps resolve disputes between tenants and landlords.

"It's important that our office be involved in this process right here," said Joshua Berkowitz, program manager for the office. "Courts tend to focus on law, not on concepts of equity, because they are required to stay within the four corners of a contract."

He said the office helps "put that final decision into the participants' hands by arming them with the type of info and supported convo to be able to make informed decisions."

At the directive of Supervisor Dave Cortese, the office came back to the board during the Tuesday meeting, with some recommendations for additional services to meet resident needs.

The main recommendation was to embed the office's resolution services into the courts.

There are about 50,000 cases of nonpayment in the county that may be filed in the courts, according to Cortese.

"If you are looking for all 50,000 to get handled outside the court, you would almost need to impose a mandatory mediation kind of process," Berkowitz said. "It is almost essential that there is some sort of partnership with the courts."

Cortese agreed with the recommendation but directed the Office of Mediation and Ombuds Services to collaborate with community nonprofit organizations to explore the idea further, especially in terms of outreach.

The office will come back with a report for the Board of Supervisors in the coming weeks.

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Santa Clara County acts with $5M to relieve strain on tenants, landlords

Fund intend to help residents pay 25% of back rent by Jan. 31

by /

Uploaded: Thu, Sep 24, 2020, 5:52 pm

Struggling tenants and landlords impacted by COVID-19 may be eligible for a financial lifeline, as the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, on Tuesday, unanimously approved an additional $5 million to help residents stay in their homes and landlords pay their bills.

"We are surgically targeting this $5 million to help the most vulnerable families pay enough rent to avoid the 'eviction time bomb' when the eviction moratoriums expire," said Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President Cindy Chavez.

The state's eviction moratorium requires residential tenants to pay at least 25% of their back rent by Jan. 31, 2021 to avoid eviction.

To help tenants make that 25% payment, the county will use the $5 million to directly pay the landlords.

More than 43,000 households are at risk of eviction in the county when the eviction moratoriums expire, according to a study done by nonprofit Working Partnerships USA and the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley.

Another part of the effort is an expansion of services by the county's Office of Mediation and Ombuds Services, which helps resolve disputes between tenants and landlords.

"It's important that our office be involved in this process right here," said Joshua Berkowitz, program manager for the office. "Courts tend to focus on law, not on concepts of equity, because they are required to stay within the four corners of a contract."

He said the office helps "put that final decision into the participants' hands by arming them with the type of info and supported convo to be able to make informed decisions."

At the directive of Supervisor Dave Cortese, the office came back to the board during the Tuesday meeting, with some recommendations for additional services to meet resident needs.

The main recommendation was to embed the office's resolution services into the courts.

There are about 50,000 cases of nonpayment in the county that may be filed in the courts, according to Cortese.

"If you are looking for all 50,000 to get handled outside the court, you would almost need to impose a mandatory mediation kind of process," Berkowitz said. "It is almost essential that there is some sort of partnership with the courts."

Cortese agreed with the recommendation but directed the Office of Mediation and Ombuds Services to collaborate with community nonprofit organizations to explore the idea further, especially in terms of outreach.

The office will come back with a report for the Board of Supervisors in the coming weeks.

Comments

Gary
Registered user
Sylvan Park
on Sep 24, 2020 at 8:44 pm
Gary, Sylvan Park
Registered user
on Sep 24, 2020 at 8:44 pm
7 people like this

$5 million for 43,000 renter-households is $116 each. That will cover reduced rent for few days!


Gary
Registered user
Sylvan Park
on Sep 24, 2020 at 8:58 pm
Gary, Sylvan Park
Registered user
on Sep 24, 2020 at 8:58 pm
9 people like this

The City of Mountain View evidently is not giving money to any organization with any lawyers to go to court for any renters. Renters who try to represent themselves in an eviction lawsuit will be overmatched. I found a non-profit receiving public funds in San Jose that does have a half dozen lawyers in-house and says it sends them to court. More lawyers for renters may be needed. Some renters may need to negotiate their departure and should have a lawyer for that too. Renters who cannot afford to pay rent will qualify for the help of the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley: 408-280-2424.


Steven Goldstein
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Sep 24, 2020 at 10:40 pm
Steven Goldstein, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Sep 24, 2020 at 10:40 pm
3 people like this

Gary,

I suspect that both the City and the County is experiencing the catastrophic damage regarding the Fires, COVID-19 and the AB5 business restructuring. In fact I can only imagine the loss of taxes they have had since February.

The GRIM reality is that the economic tsunami has dropped their cash flows to a trickle.

The REAL issue is without a Federal or State funded plan, the inevitable foreclosures are going to hit the entire area hard.

The Reason why the State hasn't provided any assistance, it is stuck, it is broke as well due to the aforementioned above.

And since the Federal Debt is now already at above 24 Trillion, the Fed is completely broke too. They are seeing all of their revenues dry up too. The Fed deficit payments are over $500 Billion. The cost of the war on terror, the tax cuts made under George W. Bush and Trump, the cost of the Great Recession of 2007.

The ugly reality is that tax cuts underfunded the Government, the Government never got reimbursed for the nearly $1 Trillion bailout in 2008-2010, and dependence of the stock and real estate markets on free borrowing to reinflate the markets set us up for the BIG let down. We in effect replayed the 1920s all over again.

So unless there is a big wiping out of these debts, the future is not good, is an understatement. There is going to be an unbelievable level of foreclosures, bankruptcies, and a second wave of more unemployment. In fact 1.6 Million unemployed in CA aren't even counted yet because their paperwork is delayed.

Where are we going from here?


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