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Council to Discuss Eviction Moratorium at Special Meeting on Tuesday

Elected officials, activists calling for halt to keep locals in homes during pandemic

Published on Monday, March 16, 2020 | 5:43 pm
 

The Pasadena City Council will consider a moratorium on local evictions at a special meeting on Tuesday.

Elected officials and activists have been calling for the moratorium since late week.

Vice Mayor Tyron Hampton said on Sunday he would request that the City Council institute a moratorium on evictions for residents and business owners who can document that the COVID-19 situation has created a demonstrable financial hardship for them.”

“The COVID-19 situation is affecting all of us,” said Vice Mayor Tyron Hampton. “One of the biggest impacts we are likely to see will be the impact on our community and its economy.”

Mayoral Candidate Victor Gordo said that matters are moving so quickly nationally and locally, that he believes it is important for the City Council to be up to speed.

“We have to respond to constituent’s questions and concerns, including concerns about an eviction moratorium and the spread of the virus,” Gordo said.

Mayor Terry Tornek is visiting the city’s African sister city, Dakar-Plateau, Senegal. Tornek is scheduled to return on Thursday and most likely will appear by phone. District 3 Councilman John Kennedy was part of that delegation but returned on Monday.

The Pasadena Tenants Union (PTU) has also called on the City Council and Mayor to pass an emergency moratorium due to COVID-19.

“The unhoused and precariously housed face a far greater risk from COVID-19 than the securely housed,” said PTU spokesperson Allison Henry.

“We cannot allow more people to fall into homelessness during this national emergency. Doing so not only violates the dignity of our neighbors but also risks their health and the health of our entire city.”

The group has created an online petition calling for Pasadena’s elected officials to enact a sweeping moratorium against the eviction of any tenant in the city of Pasadena, or the shut off of their utilities for 60 days.

The city continues to work with its utility customers to make reasonable payment arrangements should they have difficulty paying for services.
Santa Monica, San Francisco and Seattle have enacted similar moratoriums.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, Santa Monica will continue to enact policy changes that will ensure that our residents can weather this crisis,”said City Manager and Director of Emergency Services Rick Cole, who once served on the Pasadena City Council. “Our community is over 70 percent renters and this order provides our them the security of housing during this difficult time. We recognize that the vast majority of landlords will act responsibly, but this order serves to ensure no renter loses their home due to a crisis beyond their control.

Everyone needs to feel safe to stay home if they are sick, care for sick loved ones, and have access to essential services.”

Locally, skyrocketing rents have long been an issue with some one-bedroom apartments costing $3,000 to rent. The PTU and the Glendale Tenants Union unsuccessfully pushed for rent control last year.

The Pasadena efforts were supported by the Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education which has been forced to close schools, cut programs and layoff teaches due to declining enrollment as parents move east where housing is more affordable.

The PUSD has lost 1,170 students over the past five years. The district makes about $10,000 per student in average daily attendance funds from the state.

“If the City Council and Mayor are telling us that we are all in this together, then this request should be an easy item for them to support,” Henry said. “We know that health outcomes, outside of a national public health emergency, are compromised by being homeless. In the wake of an unprecedented health emergency such as COVID19, keeping people in their homes should be seen as a desired health outcome with benefits to all Pasadena residents.”

On Sunday, Gov. Gavin Newsom called for all seniors 65 and older to self-quarantine and remain at home. So far, there is only one case of an infected Pasadena resident.

Huntington Hospital is treating residents for the virus. However those residents are not from Pasadena.

Huntington Hospital and Kaiser are both developing drive-thru testing centers and are eager for those capabilities to become available as soon as possible.

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