SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — While Governor Gavin Newsom imposed a ban on evictions during the coronavirus pandemic so people wouldn’t get thrown out of their apartments, two San Jose City Council members are taking the next step, saying they shouldn’t have to pay anything.

Council members Magdelena Carrasco and Raul Peralez say, in the long run, the Governor’s plan to halt evictions will do nothing to keep laid-off workers in their homes. The state’s eviction ban still leaves renters liable for paying landlords back rent.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

“Our current eviction moratorium only delays the inevitable,” Peralez said. “Three or four months from now, a low-wage worker will only have accumulated a massive rent debt. Eviction will become almost inevitable.”

The pair is proposing a three-month suspension of residential rent payments for all units if the tenant can demonstrate a direct financial impact due to the coronavirus pandemic. They say it does no good to postpone accrued debt that people will not be able to pay.

In a conference call Monday morning, tenant Kat Macaya was brought to tears by her family’s desperate situation.

“We want to work here and serve our community!” she said. “We want to raise our children here. We want to take care of our parents here. Please keep us home and help our community before it’s too late.”

Proponents of the plan say landlords will be able to postpone paying mortgages under the federal relief bill, so they shouldn’t be hurt by their tenants not paying rent. But the landlords would still be liable for their debt.

Joshua Howard with the California Apartment Association said the ordinance would penalize the very people providing housing for local residents.

“That’s unfair,” Howard’s statement reads. “Rather than push forward with this unlawful ordinance, the city should focus on helping struggling residents and businesses pay their bills, versus potentially subjecting the city to costly lawsuits.”

Rick Hill sees both sides. The San Jose resident doesn’t mind giving a rent break to people who are out of work by no fault of their own, but thinks the federal government needs to step in to make sure the landlords don’t go broke either.

“You know, it’s not the landlord that said you can’t go to work,” Hill explained. “It’s the government saying that. So therefore I think that Trump and his boys ought to be responsible for taking care of that landlord too.”

The proposal has been added to Tuesday’s San Jose City Council meeting agenda, but it doesn’t include a lot of details.

The sponsoring members want the council to discuss the matter and direct city staff to begin researching how the plan could be implemented. It would waive all rent for people impacted by the COVID-19 crisis for a period of 90 days, retroactive to April 1st.

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