By Aldon Thomas Stiles | California Black Media
Following the example of the Italian government, California lawmakers are pushing for legislation that would provide rental relief and order a temporary suspension of mortgage payments for residents affected by COVID-19, or the Coronavirus disease.
The bill, being championed by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) and Sen. Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco), is expected to be introduced soon. Ting says the legislation is designed to keep those financially inconvenienced by COVID-19 in their homes until the public health crisis subsides.
“Before the coronavirus, homelessness was the thing people were talking about. The last thing we want is the virus to exacerbate the problem,” Ting said.
As of Sunday, there were about 3,000 positive COVID-19 cases nationwide with 335 of those in California.
On March 15, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued an executive order closing bars, restaurants, pubs, theaters and other entertainment venues across California’s largest and most populous city.
A temporary eviction ban might encourage employees to heed the advice of public health officials and stay home, according to Ting.
Two days before on March 13, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin reached agreement on an emergency economic stimulus package to address the Coronavirus crisis, providing free testing and emergency sick leave for employees under specific conditions.
“The Families First Coronavirus Response Act is focused directly on providing support for America’s families who must be our first priority,” Pelosi said. “To put families first, our legislation secures two weeks of paid sick leave and family and medical leave for those affected by the virus.”
However, the sick leave portion of the bill does not cover all employees for the duration of the outbreak.
According to Ting, his proposed bill is similar to one passed in San Jose, which also offers financial aid for small businesses. Ting’s bill will also extend to renters.
Other California cities, including Hayward, Oakland, Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Diego are gearing up to adopt similar policies for their residents.
California health officials urge citizens to practice social distancing and reduced travel to help slow the spread of COVID-19.