Participants aim to stop evictions, save lives in Bay Area county with second highest rate of evictions
Contra Costa County residents, joined by tenants from throughout the Bay Area, shut down the remote Contra Costa courthouse in a virtual civil disobedience on Friday, March 5th at 1:15 PM. Contra Costa County ranks as the Bay Area county with the second highest number of evictions during the pandemic. From March 2020 to December 2020, 135 evictions took place in Contra Costa, compared to eight in Alameda County and 17 in San Francisco County (source).
The Bay Area Regional Tenant Organizing Network (RTO), a coalition of 30+ tenant groups throughout the Bay Area including Contra Costa community groups Monument Impact and East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, organized the disruption to stop evictions scheduled for hearings. Over 100 people participated in order to urge Presiding Judge Hardie to halt all eviction proceedings during the pandemic and call on Contra Costa County Sheriff David Livingston to immediately stop enforcing lock-outs during the pandemic.
“Tenants were already facing a housing crisis before the pandemic started, so COVID-19 and its economic impacts have only made this worse,” said Jose Cordon of Monument Impact, an RTO member group leading the action. “While many corporate landlords are taking advantage of the loopholes in the County, State, and Federal moratoriums to file evictions, working families — primarily Black, immigrant, people of color, and women — put their lives at risk and forgo food and water to pay rent and avoid eviction.”
More than one in three Contra Costa County residents are renters (source).The patchwork of inconsistent municipal moratoria, coupled with a statewide eviction moratorium that has been riddled with loopholes, has failed to stop evictions during the pandemic.
“I am a single mother of an 11 year old daughter and because of the pandemic I have lost my job,” said Aleida Ramirez, a Concord tenant. “I am left stressing out about how I will pay my rent, bills and finding a babysitter to take care of my daughter if I find work. I know my story is one of many as there are thousands of single mothers at this time feeling the physical and mental stress of it all. Judge Hardie and Sheriff Livingston should be supporting our community who have been financially hit to move forward rather than making it worse for families during this time. Contra Costa county needs to join with others in limiting all evictions during this state of emergency.”
As a recent UCLA research paper shows, evictions contribute to a higher COVID-19 infection rate and a higher number of deaths. Contra Costa County has the second highest rate of COVID infections of the nine Bay Area counties.
“Evictions result in death,” said Jennifer Morales of Monument Impact. “In the midst of a public health and economic crisis, our local Board of Supervisors and Gov. Gavin Newsom must do more to protect residents and prevent homelessness. They have the power to pass a stronger moratorium and forgive tenants’ debt while helping small, struggling landlords. Housing is the cure.”
In California, 1 in 5 renter households are behind on paying rent. The average amount owed is $3400.
“We live in fear, with stress, with anxiety every day,” said Alma Jimenez, a tenant in Concord. “I am a single mother and I lost my job during COVID. I suffer from insomnia, headaches, hair loss, just by thinking about when they will evict me like the property management has threatened me in the past. They demand that we pay and we don’t even have enough food to eat. We need real protections, we do not deserve rent increases in these times and neither do we deserve to be evicted for not being able to pay the rent. We need a home for our children.”
Katie Martin Selcraig is Community Organizing Manager for Monument ImpactFiled under: Bay Area / California