As legal service attorneys who defend tenants from evictions every day, we are deeply disappointed with Governor Newsom’s response to this crisis. We are also concerned that his order will confuse tenants about their legal rights. The governor’s order is not an eviction moratorium. It does not have the legal effect of keeping a single tenant from being evicted from their home. It does not grant cities powers to stop residential evictions that they did not already have. In fact, California cities have the power to pass tenant protections now that go far beyond what the governor suggests in his order – and cities should act immediately to invalidate all eviction notices, regardless of cause.

The pandemic has created an unprecedented massive public health crisis. But even before it started, we were already faced with a statewide housing crisis causing rampant evictions and leaving many members of our communities homeless. We are all tenant attorneys who have worked to alleviate this crisis for years. Although many of our physical offices are closed, we are continuing to work with and advocate for low-income tenants during the crisis. We are now
hearing from community members who are terrified of being evicted for a variety of different reasons – right now and as soon as the state of emergency ends. We know that even when they state of emergency ends, the statewide housing crisis will continue.

The governor is empowered to pass a full moratorium on evictions for all causes. Placing the onus on each city to pass their own individual legislation puts more stress on municipal governments that should be focusing on their local emergency responses right now, rather than mitigating harm caused by the governor’s failure to act.
Tenants and tenant advocates are calling for a full statewide eviction moratorium to prevent a further crisis. Thus far, Governor Newsom has made no commitment to keeping Californians from being evicted during the pandemic. There is no excuse for this inaction, which will harm the most vulnerable members of our communities. Every minute wasted causes more confusion and more harm. We need a moratorium on all evictions statewide, for all reasons, starting immediately. We cannot wait.