As Santa Rosa officials consider extending a COVID-related eviction moratorium, housing advocates worry changes will leave tenants with few real protections.
The urgency proposal would extend protections beyond the end of June, but essentially roll back additional protections added by Sonoma County earlier in the pandemic.
While tenants suffering significant financial or physical harm by COVID, would still be protected if they fell behind on rent, evictions could go ahead if a tenant violates a lease by having a pet, for example.
Noa Hughes, a member and volunteer counselor for Sonoma County Tenants Union, calls the proposal a return to normal that's coming too soon.
"Normal meant people having to pay a third or half of their paycheck towards rent. Normal meant displacement and gentrification. Normal has meant dire circumstances for tenants in Sonoma County."
Neither city, county, state or federal rules waive rent payments. Tenants received a few extra months to get current. Hughes says Santa Rosa dropping Sonoma County's tenant-friendly strictures would only deepen a crisis.
"Opting out would mean that, for starters, among other things, that landlords could cite other reasons to try and evict tenants. Reasons that we know mean a pileup of more eviction filings, more tenants being scared, more people losing their shelter."
A Santa Rosa City Council meeting on the issue got underway at 4 pm.