More than 200 local rental housing providers attended a virtual forum late last month hosted by Alameda County Supervisors David Haubert and Lena Tam. Although an emergency prevented Supervisor Tam from attending, her staff represented her office.

The open forum held via Zoom Nov. 30 began with Supervisor Haubert discussing the need to foster a healthy rental housing environment that preserves inventory and ensures access for county renters. He also recognized the hardships faced by rental housing providers during Alameda County’s nearly three-year eviction moratorium, which often required owners to offer housing with little-to-no compensation.

The forum also highlighted a series of online polls of attendees facilitated by the offices of Supervisors Haubert and Tam. The surveys indicated that while most housing providers in attendance kept their rentals after the moratorium, 26% removed their units from the rental market. Most astonishingly, 59% of owners with renters who withheld or stopped paying rent reported that their units were vacated with damages. Of those units, 33% needed over $5,000 in repairs.

The polls also demonstrated a flaw in the county’s COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), with 38% of housing providers who applied for financial assistance not receiving it due to non-cooperation from their renters. Alameda County Housing Director staff reported similar findings in a November 2022 memorandum to the Board of Supervisors, showing 1,488 renters did not apply for ERAP, despite their housing providers applying, and 897 additional renters being unresponsive to outreach attempts by ERAP application coordinators in the county.

The forum also allowed for questions and comments from attendees, which ranged from complaints about small claims court to reports of overzealous attorneys funded by the county operating in the Alameda Court system. These county-funded legal aid organizations have also promoted harmful legislation before the supervisors, weaponizing their government contracts to attack local housing providers, some said. Supervisor Haubert indicated he would support carefully reviewing and evaluating the scope of work for these taxpayer-funded contracts to ensure accountability and fairness.

A recording of the meeting is available via the button below.

Note, use the following passcode to access: jT6Po$T^