SLO County HSOC recommends eviction moratorium, predicts an increase in homelessness

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The San Luis Obispo County Homeless Services Oversight Council (HSOC) is recommending that the county Board of Supervisors take several measures to help renters and landlords through the remainder of the COVID-19 pandemic. The recommendations include enacting a county eviction moratorium.

“For those who have lost jobs or who have seen significant decreases in income, it will become much harder to pay their mortgage, and many households have fallen behind on their rent,” a draft letter from HSOC to the Board of Supervisors reads. “This has led to a growing number of households at risk of losing their homes or apartments. The resulting impact on homelessness may be substantial.”

PREVENTION The San Luis Obispo County Homeless Services Oversight Council (HSOC) is recommending in part that the county enact a moratorium on evictions to prevent an increase in homelessness due to COVID-19. - FILE PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
  • FILE PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
  • PREVENTION The San Luis Obispo County Homeless Services Oversight Council (HSOC) is recommending in part that the county enact a moratorium on evictions to prevent an increase in homelessness due to COVID-19.
Although SLO County and Gov. Gavin Newsom issued orders temporarily prohibiting evictions when COVID-19 first hit, both expired on May 31. On April 6, the California Judicial Council adopted several emergency orders ensuring that eviction and foreclosure proceedings would not be conducted in court throughout the pandemic, but those protections are set to expire on Sept. 1.



In HSOC’s draft letter, which Grover Beach City Councilmember and HSOC chair Mariam Shah wrote on behalf of HSOC, Shah writes that roughly 1,000 SLO County residents could become newly homeless by the end of the year due to coronavirus-related hits absent intervention. That estimate is based on an equation that includes the county’s rates of unemployment and rates of homelessness that occurred during the last nationwide recession in the early 2000s. Other estimates suggest that an additional 3,500 to 4,500 could also be at risk of eviction, according to the letter.

SLO County’s unemployment rate is rising and local homelessness prevention programs are already experiencing increased demand. While SLO County’s unemployment rates in June 2019 sat at about 3 percent, data collected by the SLO County Workforce Development Board shows that the county’s unemployment rate shot up to 11.6 percent in June of this year.

To prevent a spike in homelessness locally, HSOC recommends that the Board of Supervisors reinstate a county emergency order putting restrictions on residential and commercial evictions; consider tax credits or support other options at the state and federal level to assist landlords who might be facing financial hardship because they are unable to collect rent from some of their tenants; and direct county lobbyists to support Assembly Bill 1436 and Senate Bill 1410, which together would prevent evictions statewide for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic while also offering help to landlords.

HSOC is still making minor changes to the letter but expect it to be completed by the evening of Aug. 19. ∆

—Kasey Bubnash

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