U.S. state governments are taking historic action to prevent a full-blown economic collapse from the COVID-19 pandemic. Health authorities are coming up with rules, bureaucrats are following regulations, and politicians are instituting measures to weather the storm clouds. California was the first state to suspend evictions and foreclosures – but it wasn’t the last.
Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed an executive order (EO) that would keep borrowers and tenants in their homes. As part of the governor’s new directive, local governments will be permitted to suspend evictions and halt foreclosures by financial institutions and mortgage lenders. The Department of Business Oversight and Housing also will put together solutions to ensure Californians avoid foreclosure.
The governor’s office clarified that the EO does not relieve a tenant from his or her obligations to pay rent nor restrict a property owner from seeking past rent.
Newsom has further directed the California Public Utilities Commission to keep track of public and private utilities’ efforts to prevent disconnections for critical services, including hydro, gas, water, landline telephones, and internet connection. “People shouldn’t lose or be forced out of their home because of the spread of COVID-19. Over the next few weeks, everyone will have to make sacrifices — but a place to live shouldn’t be one of them. I strongly encourage cities and counties take up this authority to protect Californians,” he said in a statement.
The policy will remain in effect through May 31. It is unclear if the governor would be willing to extend the order beyond that time should the impact of Coronavirus worsen.
California is facing nearly 500 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 11 deaths. Of those cases, 98 are community transmission, 82 are travel-related, and 75 are person-to-person. Close to 200 cases are under investigation, and nearly 12,000 people who returned to the United States through Los Angeles International Airport or San Francisco International Airport are self-monitoring.
The state has taken extraordinary measures to limit the additional spreading of the virus. Speaking on Facebook Live, Newsom is requesting restaurants to close their dining rooms, public venues to shut down, and people to “isolate at home” and not participate in public gatherings. He conceded that it might be “disruptive,” but it is “rational.”
Los Angeles County announced the closure of all bars, movie theaters, fitness centers, and restaurants (except takeout and delivery). The order applied to all 88 cities, including Los Angeles. Several counties in the San Francisco Bay Area are forcing most businesses to close and residents to stay inside their homes. It is widely believed that other jurisdictions in Southern California will impose comparable public health measures to rein in the Coronavirus.
As of March 18, there have been more than 100 deaths nationwide. The outbreak has been reported in 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands.
Until a vaccine is developed, Liberty Nation’s James Fite suggests following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations:
- Wash your hands regularly.
- Cover your cough or sneeze.
- Keep your hands away from your face.
- Avoid close contact with others and large public gatherings if possible.
- Stay home if you’re sick.
CA Leading the Way
California may have been the first state to take this action, but it wasn’t the last. Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced a statewide moratorium on evictions for 30 days. At the more local level, Miami-Dade County in Florida and the city of Baltimore are both in official states of emergency that bar evictions. Boston Mayor Martin Walsh says he asked the Massachusetts court system “to offer leniency to those facing non-essential evictions.” State lawmakers in New York have proposed a similar moratorium, and the city of Philadelphia is asking landlords to “recognize the extraordinary circumstances tenants may be facing by not adding housing insecurity to a family’s financial or health challenges.”
Who knows how long until the global pandemic subsides? Will summer temperatures kill the virus? Will social distancing curb the number of new infections? What happens next winter if a vaccine has yet to be developed? These are all burning questions that will be answered only with safeguards and patience. Until then, you can anticipate even more federal, state, and local action that may be either an annoyance or a necessity – depending on your coronapanic point of view.
Read more from Andrew Moran.
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