Last week, the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors voted to extend the current county eviction moratorium to Sept. 30. Many landlords and property owners complain such moratoriums are unfair. While it is certainly a much-debated topic in the Bay Area, California and the country, it can sometimes be difficult to understand the perspective of either side.
As both a landlord and a renter, I offer a different perspective than most.
I grew up in Concord, one of three sons to a single mother. We didn’t have a big house or live in an affluent neighborhood. My mother worked hard for what we had, but the options for affordable housing then were limited, though certainly far more than exists today.
Fortunately, my mother found an apartment that offered stability and affordability, which allowed her to provide for and raise her children while still paying the bills. As a result, I was able to focus on my education, graduate from UC Berkeley and better myself and my family through work, initiative and sound financial decisions.
I am now 36, and as an adult I have lived in Concord, Pleasant Hill, Antioch and Walnut Creek. I bought my first home when I was 25 and over time expanded to five homes today. My tenants include friends, family and recipients of California’s Section 8 program for low-income families.
All their rents are affordable and stable because everyone deserves the chance my mother had. As a landlord, I know the importance of ensuring the comfort and safety of my tenants while balancing my mortgages, taxes, repairs and more. I currently rent an apartment and feel very fortunate to be where I am today.
When this pandemic took society by surprise, my first instinct was to prepare myself and other family members with food and supplies. I sold a car I barely drove, cut back on expenses and researched the financial options available to homeowners.
As the shelter in place started and jobs were being lost, I immediately contacted my tenants — not to remind them of the rent, but to let each of them and their families know I didn’t want them to worry. Their families and responsibilities (keeping food on the table, paying the electric bill, etc.) were far more important than ensuring my rental income.
I understand an extension of the moratorium on evictions places an increased financial burden on owners of rental properties. However, I also understand that not everyone is as fortunate as my mother was, nor as fortunate as my tenants.
We all need a place to live, and in our world you either rent or you own. For renters, their home is a place to live, not an investment, and they often lack the luxury of large savings to fall back on, especially when paying the Bay Area’s exorbitant rents.
In contrast, a person or corporation should not take on the responsibility of owning rental properties if they are unable to prepare for a crisis. If a person or entity buys a property for the sole purpose of rental income, they should have some money to fall back on. Although that savings is not limitless, owners also have options through the government such as mortgage forbearance, federal disaster loans and other programs.
If this county eviction moratorium had been allowed to expire, it would have removed one of the very few options currently left to renters to ensure a roof over their heads and to provide for themselves and their families.
While I am a landlord and know that harder financial times may lie ahead, I am a human being first. I applaud the Board of Supervisors for extending the eviction moratorium. During this time of crisis, we must continue to help each other as a community and remind ourselves the decisions each of us make affect us all.