In a well-intentioned but unnecessary step, the San Jose City Council on Thursday passed an emergency ordinance to protect furloughed federal workers from eviction.
Under the legislation, approved by the council on an 8-0 vote, landlords may not evict federal employees and contractors for nonpayment of rent if those tenants have gone without pay due to the budget stalemate in Washington, D.C., which dragged on for more than a month.
Although President Trump on Friday announced that the government would reopen for three weeks, San Jose’s emergency ordinance on evicting furloughed federal workers remains in effect. The ordinance was worded to last for 30 days after the shutdown concludes, or after 90 days, whichever comes first. It is unclear how that time frame would be affected should negotiations over border security remain stalled, and the federal government close again Feb. 15.
The ordinance also prohibits the eviction of Section 8 voucher holders over nonpayment of rent by the local housing authority – a reiteration of federal law that CAA pointed out to members earlier this month.
The California Apartment Association assured the city that legislating against evictions is unnecessary and urged the council to consider a more appropriate response, such as providing interest-free loans to all individuals impacted by the government shutdown.
CAA also invited San Jose to join the association in an appeal to landlords. In a post on its website this week, CAA called on all landlords to work with tenants deprived of pay during the federal shutdown and seek amicable solutions to unpaid rent, helping keep tenants in their homes.
In a memo released this week, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo wrote: “I am grateful to the CAA for their enlightened efforts, and to the many local landlords willing to support their tenants during this difficult time. Unfortunately, these facts do not protect all our residents whose dependence on federal payments make them vulnerable.”
CAA encourages any federal employee worried they may be late paying rent to discuss their situation with their landlord. CAA encourages rental property owners to exhibit understanding under these difficult circumstances and work with their residents to keep them in their homes.