‘enough is enough’ to banks that are throwing tenants and their families out of their homes

17 Jun

Just Cause Eviction Ordinance

Richmond City Council Passes Just Cause Eviction Ordinance
Tenants protected from unfair evictions from foreclosed home

“It’s unfair for a tenant in good standing to be thrown out of their home because of a foreclosure that they could not prevent.”
-Richmond City Council member, Dr. Jeff Ritterman

“We see tenants who have moved three to four times a year, from foreclosed property to foreclosed property, losing thousands in security deposits. It goes without saying that this legislation will provide tremendous relief to many of these individuals.”
-Adam Poe, Staff Attorney, Bay Area Legal Aid

“The City of Richmond took an important step yesterday, saying ‘enough is enough’ to banks that are throwing tenants and their families out of their homes and ruining neighborhoods for no good reason. Other California cities should follow Richmond’s lead and pass eviction protection laws. This is a cost effective way for cities to prevent displacement and blight after foreclosure.”
-Dean Preston, Executive Director of Tenants Together, California’s Statewide Organization for Renters’ Rights

 

On June 16th, before a packed chamber, the Richmond City Council became the second city in California to enact a “Just Cause” ordinance protecting tenants from unfair evictions from foreclosed homes. Passed unanimously, the ordinance spells out 12 specific circumstances where eviction is allowed, none of which is foreclosure. The ordinance provides an affirmative defense for a tenant in an unlawful detainer action, contains retaliatory eviction protection and it requires payment of a relocation fee in the amount of two times the monthly rent plus $1000.

Homeowners are not the only victim’s of the foreclosure crisis. Renters are often overlooked who, by no fault of their own, face eviction. In Richmond, 50% of residents are renters, and with 2,000 current foreclosures and a 30% increase predicted over the next year, there is a crisis. With an eviction on record, residents have difficulty finding new homes and many families have become homeless. The West Contra Costs County School District now reports 850 homeless students, a 44% increase from just 2 years ago.

Introduced by Council Member Dr. Jeff Ritterman, Labor, faith and community groups led by Richmond Vision and Richmond Equitable Development Initiative (REDI)* have long advocated for “Just Cause” tenant protection legislation. Art Hatchett, Co-chair of Richmond Vision and Executive Director of GRIP (The Greater Richmond Interfaith Project), which provides homeless housing and services in West Contra Costa County, expressed satisfaction with the passage. “We’ve seen a significant increase in our communities’ homeless population, both individuals and families. As of July 1, 2009, the new Just Cause legislation will help keep individuals and families who are renters from becoming homeless and victims of unfair evictions.”

This ordinance gained momentum this past March when The Richmond Equitable Development Initiative (REDI) held a community town hall meeting to present their comprehensive housing platform to keep families in their homes. Over 500 community members attended. Their housing platform included: a “Just Cause” eviction ordinance, policies to stabilize and revitalize Richmond neighborhoods, create more long-term affordable housing and put Richmond residents back to work rebuilding Richmond. Since the town hall, REDI community leaders have been meeting with council members and city staff to implement these policies.

The passage of the “Just Cause” ordinance is the first policy initiative to come out of these efforts and Council Member Ritterman has proclaimed, “I hope this will be one of many measures we take as a city to address this crisis. It’s bad for the city to allow neighborhoods to deteriorate and I believe elected officials have an obligation to protect the most vulnerable among us.”

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