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Eviction moratorium will be extended, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg says | Update

Steinberg tells ABC10 that the city is working closely with the state and that Sacramento tenants “shouldn’t worry.”


Just three days before an evictions moratorium in Sacramento is set to expire, Mayor Darrell Steinberg tells ABC10 the city will be issuing an extension.

“We are going to extend our residential evictions moratorium. Period,” Steinberg said. “Either by an extended virtue of state order or we will do it ourselves.”

Steinberg says the city is working closely with state officials to extend the moratorium. The mayor did not say what the length of that extension would be but did say he will make the announcement soon. When asked what would happen if the city extends the moratorium but the state does not, Steinberg responded that Sacramento tenants “shouldn’t worry.”

“I’m not worried about that, we will work it all out,” he said.

If the moratoriums aren’t extended, Sacramento and other cities like Elk Gove, Rancho Cordova, and others, renters will have 120 days to pay back rent from April and May.

The Sacramento Tenant Protection Program, however, says renters who provided a written notification of financial hardship due to coronavirus are protected from eviction for those 120 days.

There is also another option that protects renters. Right now, they cannot be evicted because of emergency rules from the state banning courts from processing evictions and foreclosures until 90 days after the governor ends the state of emergency. But local tenant unions say that only buys renters time.

"I should not starve myself. I should not...have my family get heatstroke this summer in an attempt to come up with money I never had the opportunity to make," Mackenzie Wilson said.

So far, Sacramento County officials aren’t planning on an extension to the moratorium and Gov. Gavin Newsom hasn’t publicly addressed the situation. But Steinberg tells ABC10 renters should not have to worry about rent payments in the middle of a global pandemic.

And he said those who need help should take advantage of the city’s resources, like free mediation between tenants and landlords.

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The next few months will be painful for renters still struggling to make ends meet, as several eviction moratoriums that offered temporary tenant protections begin to phase out.

Mackenzie Wilson, with the Sacramento Tenants Union, said the May 31 expiration date for the city's moratorium is going to have residents making decisions they otherwise would not have to make if they had the assistance.

"We're having to decide to put on our air conditioning in the summer or come up with the rent debt," Wilson said. "We know that June 1 is the deadline where the rent debt clock starts."

That's why Wilson moved and downsized to cut costs instead of owing money to a landlord after her business took a hard financial hit.

"I should not starve myself. I should not allow to have my family get heat stroke this summer in an attempt to come up with money I never had the opportunity to make," Wilson said.

Unless eviction moratoriums are extended as the city of Davis decided to do, tenants will have 120 days to start paying back-rent for April and May. The state's eviction moratorium is set to expire May 31, as are Elk Grove, Rancho Cordova, West Sacramento and Sacramento.

Tina Lee-Vogt, the City of Sacramento Program Manager who oversaw the moratorium, said all it did was delay rent.

Lee-Vogt said as long as renters provided their landlords in-writing notification and documentation of financial hardship due to the pandemic, they're protected from eviction for the 120 days and landlords cannot demand all the unpaid rent on June 1

"So, if it expires on May 31, they will have until September 29 to repay any unpaid rent." she said. 

Sacramento is using funds to offer free mediation between tenants and landlords through the non-profit, Sacramento Self House Housing.

Residents can also call the Renter's Hotline operated by Sacramento Self Help Housing at (916) 389-7877 to obtain supplemental information regarding the moratorium on rents and evictions, COVID-19, Assembly Bill 1482, and housing resources. 

"What we're really hoping is to encourage that communication," Lee-Vogt said. 

After the 120 repayment period, Lee-Vogt says California Judicial council emergency orders will help delay evictions. All eviction proceedings are suspended until 90 days after California's state of emergency is lifted, which helps buy time. 

Meanwhile, Elk Grove's moratorium sets a standardized repayment plan of four equal parts due each month beginning June 1 for those two months of unpaid rent. That's if landlords and tenants don't come up with their own plan.

"What it always comes down to is we have time to sit here and just wait for the devastation," said Wilson, who says the moratorium do not offer true rent relief.

The Sacramento Tenants Union says it is working on organizing tenant's in the region to demand local elected officials bring different ideas to help working families during the pandemic, including programs to cancel rent. 

"We still have time to figure out what we're going to do," Wilson said. "We still have time to figure out if we're going to do pay day loans, or if we're going to do collective action because together — solidarity is key."

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