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Santa Barbara maps out plan for tenants and property owners

Relief for Tenants
Scott Sheahen / KEYT

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Santa Barbara is working to help tenants who are struggling to make rent. Tuesday the city council reviewed California Governor Gavin Newsom’s no-eviction order, which is set to expire at the end of the month.

Before the meeting Santa Barbara Mayor, Cathy Murillo said, "The city does not have the authority to cancel anyone's rent or say you have to do rent forgiveness."

Unemployment rates are soaring across the country and here on the South Coast. And the City of Santa Barbara is trying to help tenants in homes and businesses, many struggling to pay their rent because of the pandemic.

"Almost 60% of those who live in the City of Santa Barbara are renters," said Mayor Murillo. "So we are looking at protecting a population that their wages have been cut because of the pandemic."

On March 27th Governor Newsom issued a temporary hold on evictions and on May 31st it will expire. In Tuesday's the city council meeting, the council voted unanimously to give tenants, who missed rent payments, six to twelve month after the temporary eviction moratorium order expires. They also approved to extend the city's order to follow the governor's order if he chooses to extend it.

Some local organizations are also working to help landlords and tenants reach an agreement.

Matthew Lowe is a member of the Santa Barbara Tenants Council. He said, "The optimal thing is to have the tenants to be protected, if they can have a place to live and it can get figured out once the virus settles down and we're in a place of security."

The Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy, of CAUSE, is pushing for the state to give tax credits to landlords who can offer rent forgiveness.

CAUSE policy advocate, Frank Rodriguez, said, "I think those are the big ideas we need to get to and that's where we're going to need the moneys that are available at the state and federal level." 

Mayor Murillo said the city will follow the governor's temporary eviction hold and encourages those who can pay rent to pay what they can. And she said, there are organizations in Santa Barbara that can help, “The Santa Barbara Foundation and the United Way, and Catholic Charities, have financial assistance, some relief for individuals and families, and apply there if you need help. We’re also encouraging tenants and landlords to work together. So try to work with them on rent repayment.”

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Scott Sheahen

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