Common Ground Spearheads Solano County COVID Tenants’ Rights Resolution
Solano County Board of Supervisors pass measure to protect housing stability and health
Some good news in these trying times: renters in Solano County who have lost income due to COVID-19 can stay in their homes, thanks to the County Supervisors, Common Ground, and other partners and residents who brought the issue forward.
Building on momentum from last summer’s action to assist tenants of Vallejo’s Strawberry Hill and Holiday Gardens apartments, Common Ground coordinated efforts to draft a county resolution to help tenants and landlords navigate the financial storm of the COVID-19 State of Emergency. The resolution provides guidance for paying back rents owed, once the State of Emergency ends, and gives tenants a full year to pay.
Common Ground members realized that a short-term eviction moratorium would only delay a massive wave of evictions that would lead to an economic and a public health disaster—a humanitarian crisis for thousands of people in Solano County.
Common Ground partnered with allies, including tenant attorneys, Fair Housing Napa Valley, Vallejo Housing Justice Coalition, the Napa-Solano Central Labor Council, and Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative, and researched other municipalities. Then, Common Ground presented recommendations to the county supervisors.
On Tuesday, the County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution which builds on statewide protections, allowing tenants to negotiate a payment schedule for unpaid rent for up to one year after the State of Emergency is lifted. The resolution also prohibits late fees during this period. Here is a link to the Board’s Agenda item:
“Essentially, the rent debt due to the COVID-19 emergency should be treated like any other kind of consumer debt: credit cards, utilities, etc. We aren’t denying people access to water or electricity if they can’t pay– we give them a grace period to pay back what they owe because these things are basic necessities. The same should be true for rents” said David Lindsay of Benicia, chair of Common Ground’s housing team.
Common Ground members are grateful to members of the community who shared their stories, to their partner organizations, and for the willingness of various elected officials to engage in dialogue for the common good.
Bishop Bryan Harris of Vallejo’s Emmanuel Temple Apostolic Church stated “We are grateful for the work that Common Ground has done in the community, and it’s essential that groups like Common Ground stand up for people in need–especially in times like these, where we don’t want to see people being taken advantage of.”
Founded in 2013, Common Ground is made up of diverse religious and non-profits organizations in Solano and Napa Counties. It is a broad-based, non-partisan organization that addresses issues facing our communities by building relationships and supplying members with leadership and organizing skills.