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Registration Opens for Landlord Registry

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Just cause for eviction ordinance sets new requirement, helps data collection

In a quest for more data about the Marin County housing market, the County of Marin has created an online registry for landlords to share rental data. Affected landlords are required to register their rental units by June 1, 2019, and County staff is hosting three events in late May to help with registration.

In December 2018, the Marin County Board of Supervisors approved a pilot ordinance requiring landlords to provide legal reason – a just cause – before evicting a renter within the unincorporated areas of Marin. The ordinance, which went into effect January 2019, applies to properties with three or more rental units and does not limit allowable rent increases.

“In response to calls from the public and the Board for more accurate and timelier data on the local housing market, a data collection provision was part of the ordinance,” said Leelee Thomas, Planning Manager for the Marin County Community Development Agency. “We rely on private property owners for rental housing stock, but there’s been no mechanism for them to share rental data with us. We have a strong need for more trusted statistics in order to recognize trends.”

When a landlord registers, the County will be able to track the costs of rent, changes in occupancy, and evictions, among other categories.  Previously the only data available to the County was year-old statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau or numbers from for-profit real estate data analytics companies that typically only survey properties with more than 50 units. Those properties account for less than seven percent of housing units in the unincorporated county, and landlord representatives regularly assert that larger “corporate” landlords behave differently than housing providers with fewer units.

Over the past several years, the Board of Supervisors has taken actions to alleviate pressure in the county’s housing market, beset by high rents and marked by displacement and low vacancy rates.

“All of us agree we need a lot more housing in this county, but we are taking small steps forward,” said Board President Kate Sears during the December 2018 session in which the just cause ordinance was unanimously approved. “Everything matters. I think this is a good step, and hopefully it will make a difference and we will get good data, and there will be a greater feeling of dignity for our renters.”

The just cause ordinance was recommended by two independent groups that studied fair housing practices and existing barriers to fair housing choice for more than a year in the local market. Just cause joins a larger series of affordable housing and tenant protection measures the Board has supported since 2015 as it has made equity one of its top priorities. County housing measures already approved and in place include source of income protection for tenants with housing vouchers, mandatory mediation for rent increases above 5 percent, financial incentives to encourage landlords to rent to those who need shelter the most, and expanded a fee waiver program to encourage the creation of both accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and junior accessory dwelling units (JADUs).

Thomas said the intent of the just cause ordinance is to relieve displacement pressures and support stability for renter households while retaining the rights of landlords to terminate rental agreements for legitimate reasons. The justifiable causes for eviction described in the ordinance include:

failure to pay rent;

a breach of the rental contract;

the tenant using the unit for illegal activities;

the landlord permanently removing the unit from the rental market; and

the landlord moving into the unit.

Later in May, CDA is teaming with the Marin County Free Library to host a registration drive for landlords. Staff from the CDA Housing and Federal Grants Division, CDA Environmental Health Division, and the Department of Finance will be on hand to assist landlords with the registration process. Landlords must have a business license and be registered for environmental health checks.

The events are:

Tuesday, May 21, Fairfax Library, 2097 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., 5-8 p.m.;

Wednesday, May 29, Novato Library, 1720 Novato Blvd., 5-8 p.m.;

Thursday, May 30, Corte Madera Library, 707 Meadowsweet Dr. 5-8 p.m.;

Anyone may subscribe to receive e-mailed notifications about housing-related issues.

Bay Area

Mayor London Breed Announces Nearly $2 Million in Grants for San Francisco Nonprofit Organizations

All 11 of this year’s NSI grantees provide vital services and resources to low-income residents. Eight of the organizations have Black, Latino, Asian, LGBTQ, or immigrant leadership.

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Eleven organizations have received awards designed to protect and expand essential services for people experiencing mental health challenges and homelessness, provide support for low-income and first-generation college students, and create culturally responsive music, dance, and arts access at an affordable housing site in the Mission.

     Mayor London N. Breed, the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD), the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, the San Francisco Arts Commission, and Community Vision made the announcement on Saturday about $1.96 million in transformative awards for San Francisco nonprofit organizations.

    The space acquisition and lease stabilization grants are part of San Francisco’s Nonprofit Sustainability Initiative (NSI), which helps stabilize nonprofits that provide services and support to residents as part of the response to COVID-19 and beyond. 

    With these awards, the NSI surpasses a milestone, seeding the acquisition of more than 150,000 square feet of newly nonprofit-owned space for organizations that serve low-income residents and are deeply rooted in historically underserved communities and communities of color. 

    All 11 of this year’s NSI grantees provide vital services and resources to low-income residents. Eight of the organizations have Black, Latino, Asian, LGBTQ, or immigrant leadership.

 

    “This past year has shown us just how important it is that our local San Francisco nonprofit organizations have the tools and resources they need to provide essential services,” said Breed. “The Nonprofit Sustainability Initiative has supported the acquisition of critical community spaces throughout San Francisco. This round of funding will help strengthen organizations that are trusted and deeply rooted in their communities so they can recover and emerge even stronger than before the pandemic.”

 

    These funds are especially critical for ensuring San Francisco’s nonprofit organizations are able to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to provide critical services and resources for San Franciscans. 

    For example, in 2019, NSI funds supported the purchase of the property at 701 Alabama St., which was quickly activated last year by the Latino Task Force to distribute food and COVID-19-related assistance to some of San Francisco’s most vulnerable residents.

 

    This round of NSI awards includes $1 million for the Bayview Hunters Point Foundation to acquire permanent space that will be shared with organizations doing complementary work for people experiencing homelessness or seeking mental health and substance abuse services. 

    Three past NSI awardees, La Cocina, Planned Parenthood, and Mission Kids, opened new facilities this week. A fourth awardee, Community Youth Center of San Francisco, plans to break ground later this spring.

 

     The underlying objective of all NSI programs is to ensure access to quality-of-life resources as well as education, health, and human services for residents of San Francisco, and real estate assistance is a cornerstone of the program. 

 

2021 Nonprofit Sustainability Awardees

 

     Bayview Hunters Point Foundation will use its $1 million awards to catalyze a capital campaign and purchase space at 5815 3rd Street in the Bayview. The 20,470 square foot space will include shared space for organizations offering complementary services, making it easier for clients and their families to access support.

 

     “Bayview Hunters Point Foundation has provided support and empowerment for San Francisco’s most vulnerable and disenfranchised residents since 1971,” said Bayview Hunters Point Foundation Board President Susan Watson. “The Nonprofit Sustainability Initiative acquisition grant will serve as the lead gift for our 50th Anniversary Capital Campaign, making it possible for us to purchase the building we’ve long called home. From this stable base of operations, we will continue to serve those most in need—for the next 50 years and beyond.”

 

     Cultura y Arte Nativa de las Américas was awarded $250,000 to cover renovation costs and $75,000 to pay for architectural and engineering services in support of its new community arts space in the Mission District. 681 Florida Street will be CANA’s first permanent home and will be used for dance rehearsals/performances, recording studio/beat-making lessons, music lessons, marketplace activities, and community events and meetings.

 

     “Funding for our future, permanent art space in the Mission District will bring long-term stability for CANA-Carnaval San Francisco and hundreds of artists, positively impacting our ability to focus on programming and development. This support will help preserve our community and city’s vibrant artistic culture for generations to come,” said Roberto Hernandez, Artistic Director, and Executive Producer.

 

     Japanese Community Youth Council received an award of $83,500 to support the repair and replacement of items required by the relocation of its college access programs to 1710 Octavia Street. The new site will be used to offer academic support and college advising for low-income, first-generation college students. While services are offered onsite at schools throughout San Francisco, the 1710 Octavia site will be used for afterschool, evening, weekend, and summer activities.

 

     “JCYC is extremely pleased to be awarded a relocation grant from the San Francisco Nonprofit Sustainability Initiative which will make it possible for our organization to move into new, long-term program space.  We are grateful for the opportunity to utilize these resources to create the most welcoming and safest environment for the children and youth we serve,” said Jon Osaki, Executive Director of the Japanese Community Youth Council.

 

     Other 2021 awardees include Bay Area Video Coalition, Charity Cultural Services Center, Children’s Book Project, Chinese Historical Society of America, Kultivate Labs, Larkin Street Youth Services, The Healing Well, and Youth Art Exchange.

 

     Grants are administered by Community Vision, which will announce the next request for acquisition proposals in June 2021 and offer several workshops with more information. Should funding be approved by the Board of Supervisors, the next round of applications for relocation and renovation grants will open in late 2021. Past program guidelines are available at communityvisionca.org/sfsustainability.. Information about past NSI awardees and current resources can be found at oewd.org/nonprofits.

This report is from the Mayor’s Office of Communication.

 

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Community

COVID-19 Rent Relief Funds Available to Oaklanders

The Keep Oakland Housed Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which will distribute federal funds, will focus on those with the highest need and reimburse up to 100% of unpaid rent and utilities.

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About 12.8 million in federal funds and 13.8 million in state funds are available to Oaklanders to help tenants pay, and landlords receive, back rent that was due related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funds will be distributed through the Keep Oakland Housed Emergency Rental Assistance Program and SB 91 State Rental Assistance Program. Both programs begin the process of taking applications and distributing funds on April 1, 2021. Information for both programs will be available and updated through this url: oaklandca.gov/resources/housing-resources-erap-emergency-rental-assistance.

The Keep Oakland Housed Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which will distribute federal funds, will focus on those with the highest need and reimburse up to 100% of unpaid rent and utilities.

The SB 91 State Rental Assistance Program, which distributes state funds, will cast a wider net and reimburse in a different manner. Landlords who have a tenant or tenants who qualify for the program can apply and, if approved through the State Rental Assistance Program, receive 80% of unpaid rent accrued between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021. To receive the 80% rent reimbursement money, landlords must agree to waive the other 20% their tenants owe.

If a tenant’s landlord chooses not to apply through the State Rental Assistance Program, tenants can apply themselves and still receive 25% of rent money owed during that same period.

By then paying that 25% to their landlord, tenants will be protected from eviction for non-payment of rent under state law, although Oakland and Alameda’s eviction moratoriums would protect them from being evicted due to non-payment of rent during this period anyway.

Although Oakland will be prioritizing certain groups first, the City is encouraging anyone who needs rental assistance related to the COVID-19 pandemic to contact its partner not for profit agencies that are helping with these rental assistance programs to see if they are eligible to receive either federal or state funds.

The following agencies can help tenants to directly get rent relief funds or help tenants work with their landlords to get funds: Eviction Defense Center at 510-452-4521 and www.evictiondefensecenteroakland.org, Centro Legal de la Raza at 510-422-5669, Bay Area Community Services (BACS) at 510-899-9289, and Catholic Charities East Bay at 510-768-3100.

Landlords who want to apply for rent money they are owed can contact Housing and Economic Rights Advocates at 510-271-8443, ex. 300 or heraca.org and The East Bay Housing Rental Association at 510-893-9873 or membership@ebrha.com.

The City of Oakland is prioritizing providing funds to seniors, families with children, those who have previously experienced homelessness, households where income is 50% or less of the Bay Area median income, and those who live in certain zip codes with high COVID-19 infection rates. The prioritized zip codes are still being determined. These groups are especially encouraged to seek rent relief through their programs, although funds will be available to others as well. Anyone who thinks they need help with rent relief can reach out to the Oakland partner agencies listed and check the oaklandca.gov/resources/housing-resources-erap-emergency-rental-assistance for continued updates on the programs and help applying for them.

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Bay Area

Oakland: Homelessness, Housing, Public Safety Top City Council Budget Priorities

Aside from the council, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf identified her priorities for the 2021-23 budget, which she defined as holistic community safety, a responsive, trustworthy government and among other things, housing, economic and cultural security.

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 Homelessness, housing, and public safety are Oakland city councilmembers’ top priorities for the 2021-23 budget, the topic of a council retreat Tuesday.
       Those priorities are at least partially consistent with what Oakland residents see as the city’s most pressing needs, based on a recent survey by FM3 Research, an opinion research and strategy firm.   
       But the mayor and City Council face an expected deficit in the 2021-23 budget even with $192 million coming from the federal American Rescue Plan. Despite that, council President Nikki Fortunato Bas hopes to position Oakland to thrive, not just survive.
       “It’s not enough to go back to where we were,” Bas said, referring to pre-pandemic times when even then many in Oakland were hurting.
       She thinks the council can position the city for a strong economic recovery and she has at least one idea to help do that.
       Bas’s idea is a progressive business tax, which could raise tens of millions of dollars by applying a higher tax rate on larger businesses.
       Currently, Oakland’s business tax rate is flat, which means mom-and-pop businesses pay the same tax rate as Whole Foods Market, which is owned by online retail giant Amazon. Under a progressive tax, Whole Foods would pay more tax on each dollar of sales than smaller stores would.  
       The progressive tax legislation went before the council last year and fell one vote short of passing. She hopes it will get through the council this time and make it on the 2022 ballot.
       “I think it will make a huge difference in terms of providing a stronger revenue base,” she said.
       Council members didn’t discuss what services, if any, may be cut because of the deficit. But adding revenue may alleviate the need to cut services.
       Councilmembers are also looking at how they might reallocate money from police to other services, Bas said.
       Of the $192 million expected from the American Rescue Plan, $44 million will be used to cover a current budget shortfall with the balance going to the 2021-23 budget.
       The process to create a balanced 2021-23 budget started Tuesday and must be approved in June.
       Aside from the council, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf identified her priorities for the 2021-23 budget, which she defined as holistic community safety, a responsive, trustworthy government, and among other things, housing, economic and cultural security.
       The mayor did not get more specific in the document she provided to the Oakland Finance Department.  
       In the survey by FM3 Research, 50% of Oakland residents said housing and homelessness are the top issues they would like elected officials to address in the upcoming budget.  
       Thirty-six percent said cutting the police budget should be the first or second step to easing the city’s budget deficit, while 58% said someone other than police should respond to mental health crises that are not violent.
     

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