RICHMOND (KPIX) — With more than half of the city’s residents being renters, the Richmond City Council voted to protect them from getting evicted during the pandemic by adopting an urgent city ordinance.

Tuesday’s discussion grew heated before lawmakers voted on the law. As this was an urgent ordinance, it needed 5 out of 7 votes, and that is exactly how the vote went. The ordinance will now take effect right away.

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Vice Mayor Demnlus Johnson passionately supported the effort to keep Richmond residents in their homes as he called on Richmond residents to lift each other up during the pandemic.

“I’m familiar with landlords trying to evict me,” said Rosalinda Montes Palacios, a former Richmond resident.

Palacios said she was forced out of her home in 2020. While she was able to find housing outside of the city, she worries about others.

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“We know there are going to be hundreds of families evicted and we want to avoid that,” said Palacios.

City Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin who co-authored the ordinance argued Richmond has suffered a high number of evictions compared to neighboring cities.

“The county of Contra Costa has 15 times more evictions during the pandemic than Alameda County,” McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin says this ordinance will close the loopholes in the city and state eviction moratoriums but some say landlords need protections, as well.

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The new protections will remain in effect for until the local emergency ends, plus 60 days. Now, the only lawful reason to evict a renter would be for imminent safety and health concerns.