By: Mario Conde, Reporter
Renters in the unincorporated area who lose their jobs or get buried in medical bills because of the COVID-19 pandemic are now shielded from being evicted from their homes through the end of May.
The board met on March 21 to adopt a series of measures to help renters have peace of mind if they have been affected by COVID-19. County Supervisors Michael Kelley, Ray Castillo, and Jesus Escobar attended the meeting via teleconference. Chairman Luis Plancarte and Ryan Kelley were at the meeting.
The local ordinance offers protections to tenants in the unincorporated area of the County of Imperial by prohibiting the eviction of any tenant who can demonstrate that they have received a notice of eviction for failure to pay rent and that such failure is related to a substantial loss of income and because of medical expenses.
The ordinance provides a grace period of 120 days following for tenants to pay any past-due rent. It prohibits landlords from charging late penalties against any amount of rent owned during the term of the ordinance.
While the ordinance provides protections against evictions, it does not relieve a tenant of the obligations to pay rent, nor does it restrict the landlord’s ability to recover rent due. The ordinance takes effect immediately and is set to expire on May 31, 2020, unless the Board of Supervisors decides to extend it.
On March 4, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a proclamation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Governor issued an Executive Order which suspended any provision of state law prohibiting a local government from exercising its police power to impose substantive limitations on residential or commercial evictions. Following the issuance of this Executive Order, several cities and counties within the State issued moratoriums on COVID-19 pandemic related evictions.
“People shouldn’t lose or be forced out of their home because of the spread of COVID-19,” said Governor Newsom. “Over the next few weeks, everyone will have to make sacrifices-but a place to live should not be one of them,” he said during his March 16 executive order signing.
In related actions, the board approved a donation of $1,000 to the Westmorland Community Food Pantry, the Calipatria-Niland Family Resource Center, Imperial Valley Food Bank, and Brown Bag Coalition. The donations to these groups are to help families in need, homeless people, and the youth during these difficult times. The donations came from Supervisors Ryan Kelley and Ray Castillo’s discretionary funds.