No longer business as usual. SV@Home pivots in the face of COVID-19:

When SV@Home was formed back in 2015 to address Silicon Valley’s housing crisis, we never dreamed that we would face the added challenge of COVID-19. While we all hope that this crisis is short-lived and that we can go back to fighting for more new housing, the preservation of our existing affordable homes, and the protection of our residents, we now must pivot to respond to the immediate crisis and start planning for the potential for both mid-term and longer-term residual impacts.

 

Santa Clara County is one of the country’s coronavirus hot spots. We have been under a local shelter in place directive since Tuesday, March 17th at 12:01am, with only those people who perform essential services still able to leave home for work. While totally advisable, we know that this will have economic ramifications for our residents, particularly those who are the most at risk. We also know that, while housing development is considered to be an essential service, there are many challenges being faced by the development community. In addition, we have more than 8,000 people who find themselves homeless on any given day in the County, and they are particularly vulnerable to infection.

 

Check out SV@Home’s Policy Platform here

 

SV@HOME CALL FOR ACTION ON COVID-19

SV@Home’s mission is to drive the creation of affordable housing for a more vibrant and equitable Silicon Valley. Since opening our doors in 2015, we have worked to increase housing opportunities throughout the County through policy, advocacy, research, learning, and engagement.

Silicon Valley’s affordable housing crisis is acute. The COVID-19 pandemic has added another layer of challenge to this already enormous crisis.

SV@Home is uniquely positioned to advocate for housing solutions. We know that immediate steps are critically important, but also know that the impact of the pandemic will be felt for a long time requiring both mid-term and long-term responses.

Ultimately, we know that while we need to have a laser focus on the current crisis, we must continue to keep up the fight for investment in new affordable housing development, preservation of existing affordable housing, and protection of our residents from displacement. This will require that—in addition to immediate actions– we double down on our work to increase funding for housing and reduce obstacles to building that have added to the cost and time to bring new homes on line.

Here is SV@Home’s call to action for COVID-19.

Immediate Response

  1. Advocate for funding to respond to the housing impacts of COVID-19
    1. Work with the 3Ps Coalition, the Non Profit Housing Association of Northern California, and other State partners to advocate for adoption of a State housing relief package that provides immediate assistance to affordable housing providers, tenants, and homeowners.
    2. Advocate for State funding to respond to the immediate needs of lower- income tenants who are undocumented and unable to access federal support
    3. Support the National Low-Income Housing Coalition and other partners in calling for the adoption of a housing relief package in federal Stimulus #4 that provides immediate assistance to affordable housing providers, tenants, and homeowners facing housing insecurity due to COVID-19.
    4. Support efforts to raise money locally to help the most vulnerable in our community.
  2. Support Policies That Require Mandatory Sick Leave
  3.  Homelessness
    1. Support rapid response efforts to bring people indoors
    2. Leverage state properties and facilities by directing State agencies, utility districts and counties to immediately identify and make available public land for temporary or permanent emergency housing construction.
    3. Waive environmental regulations and State building codes for emergency construction of buildings to house people at risk of contracting the virus
  4. Keep People in Their Homes
    1. Enact a temporary moratorium on rent increases and evictions that extends a reasonable period of time after the end of the shelter in place order
    2. Encourage landlords and tenants to work together to restructure rental agreements or develop payment plans that avoid displacement.
    3. Halt foreclosures by requiring forbearance and restructuring of mortgages to enable homeowners and rental property owners to maintain their homes
    4. Protect against utility shut offs and advocate for similar forbearance for utilities that is similar to the rent moratorium.
  5. Protect Existing Affordable Housing
    1. Advocate for local actions to enable affordable housing developments to weather the storm by allowing for deferral of payments, use of reserves, and potential restructuring. This includes:
      1. Cities should defer all payment of 2019 residual receipts owed by affordable housing providers at the property level and allow the funds to be placed in a reserve for the benefit of the properties and residents.
      2. At the end of the year, if the crisis has subsided, allow the use of any unused residual to forgive past due rent owed by tenants.
    2. Create regulatory flexibility in existing State affordable housing programs to help affordable housing owners to operate their developments with reduced rental income
      1. Encourage all lenders to allow forbearance for all affordable housing developments.
      2. Provide opportunities to restructure State loans as an alternative to forbearance.
  6. Allow Residential Construction to Move Forward
    1. Declare that residential construction is an essential service
    2. Continue to take actions that move housing development forward, including permitting, plan review, and building and fire inspections.
    3. Review and remove City- and State-required deadlines for development that might slow due to the pandemic.
    4. Approve new incentives for affordable housing development, including faster processing and reduction or elimination of fees.
    5. As proposed by the California Housing Partnership Corporation, take actions to protect CDLAC and CTAC-funded developments, including enacting bond allocation extensions, extending placed in service deadlines, and granting extensions and waivers of performance deposit forfeitures for both competitive and non- competitive projects.

Mid-Term and Long-Term Response

  1. Make housing a priority at the State and federal levels
  2. Adequately fund housing programs
    1. Expand the Housing Choice Voucher Program
    2. Expand the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program
    3. Increase private activity bond authority.
    4. Increase the State commitment to affordable housing
  3. Avoid the speculation that happened in 2008 by providing funding to developers to purchase at risk properties for conversion to affordable housing
  4. Strengthen requirements for jurisdictions to meet their fair share of the housing need.
  5. Streamline local processes, lower unnecessary fees, and expand by-right development.
  6. Support the California Housing Partnership Corporation and other partners in calling for the federal government to address the shortage of tax-exempt bonds for new home development by creating an exemption for all affordable housing from the private activity bond cap; or 2) reducing the tax-exempt bond 50% test to 25%.
  7. Advocate for changes to the State CDLAC process to ensure that Santa Clara County developments are competitive for limited 4% credits.
  8. Extend LIHTC deadlines and take action to update the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program as part of a broader stimulus package per the ACTION Coalition letter.

 

The City of San Jose has a website that describes homeless response.

The County of Santa Clara released an update on 3/29 detailing County-wide housing response.

Homeowner Protections

Recent Update (4/27/2020): “No Lump Sum Required at the End of Forbearance,” Says FHFA

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac gave many borrowers with financial hardships a forbearance option, which is a temporary pause or reduction in their monthly mortgage payments. The missed payments eventually have to be paid back.  The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) wants homeowners in forbearance to know they are not required to make lump sum repayments if their mortgages are backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.  Note: Not all home loans are backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

For those borrowers who opt for forbearance, the FHFA says that their mortgage servicer will contact them about 30-days before the end of the forbearance plan to see if the temporary hardship has been resolved and discuss a variety of repayment options. If the hardship has not been resolved, the forbearance plan can be extended. If the hardship has been resolved, the servicer will work with the borrower to:

  • Set up a repayment plan;
  • Modify the loan so the borrower’s payments are added to the end of the mortgage; or
  • Set up a modification that reduces the borrower’s monthly mortgage payment.

 

For more information, click here.

 

Federal Government Announces Relief for FHA-Backed Mortgages

For those homeowners whose mortgage is backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), they may qualify for the suspension or lowering of your mortgage payments for up to twelve months if they show that they have been economically impacted by COVID-19. It is estimated that 50-65% of the mortgages throughout the country are impacted by this action. It is important to note that this is not a forgiveness of debt.

For further information, see Federal Response to Housing and COVID-19 page on this website and information prepared by the staff of the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services.

 

State of California Announces Mortgage Relief

On March 25th, Governor Newsom announced that four of the five major national banks– Wells Fargo, US Bank, Citi and JP Morgan Chase– agreed to waive mortgage payments for 90 days for those affected by COVID-19. Bank of America has committed to a 30-day forbearance, with additional extensions possible. Many State-charter banks and credit unions have also agreed to a 90-day forbearance.  While there are no income requirements to obtain mortgage relief, a homeowner will need to provide evidence that they have been impacted by COVID-19. This is not a forgiveness of debt.

If homeowners are having trouble paying their mortgages, they should contact and work directly with their mortgage servicer to learn about and apply for available relief.

More information can be found here.

 

With massive layoffs impacting tens of thousands of low-wage workers, we know that many will be challenged to pay bills, including rent. Immediate action is needed to ensure that these workers and their families do not lose their homes. Santa Clara County is already grappling with how to bring an estimated 8.000 homeless residents inside to shield them from COVID-19. It is up to us to ensure that this number does not grow.

At both the State and local levels, elected officials have taken action to protect tenants from eviction. It is important to note, however, that these responses only respond to the immediate challenge. A moratorium on evictions will not relieve tenants of paying rent in the long run. As a result, SV@Home is working with partners throughout the region and State to develop responses to ensure that tenants will not be displaced when the moratoria end.

Here are the actions taken to date:

Countywide Action

Santa Clara County Tenant Eviction Moratorium Action— On Tuesday March 24th, the County of Santa Clara adopted an eviction moratorium that applies to all 15 jurisdictions in the County and the County unincorporated area.

The County ordinance applies to all residential and small business tenants in Santa Clara County. It prohibits “no-fault” evictions and evictions for non-payment of rent for tenants who have incurred substantial income loss and/or substantial out-of-pocket medical expenses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Any local ordinance that is more restrictive overrides the County ordinance.

It is important to note that the ordinance does not relieve tenants of their obligation to pay rent, but will allow for a 120-day period to pay back rent.

Read more here–

  1. County Eviction Moratorium Info Page for Tenants and Landlords
  2. County Ordinance
  3. Notice of Inability to Pay Document
  4. FAQ and More Resources (Law Foundation)

On Friday March 27th, SV@Home and the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley hosted Facebook live info sessions on the county’s eviction moratorium ordinance in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese. For more details and commonly asked questions, please refer to the videos.

Local Actions

San Jose Tenant Eviction Moratorium Ordinance— The City of San Jose was one of the first jurisdictions in the State to adopt an ordinance protecting tenants from eviction. The City’s moratorium applies to all residential properties in San José. This includes single-family homes, rooms rented in single-family homes, duplexes, condominiums, income-restricted apartments (i.e., affordable housing), rent-stabilized apartments, market-rate apartments, and mobilehomes.

Read more here-

  1. Eviction Moratorium Website
  2. Fact Sheet(Spanish and Vietnamese)
  3. Information for Landlords

Palo Alto Eviction Moratorium Ordinance— On March 23rd, the Palo Alto City Council approved an ordinance protecting tenants from eviction for nonpayment of rent. The ordinance was updated on April 7th to align with the County’s eviction moratorium.

The ordinance is broader than the County’s ordinance in that it is tied to Palo Alto’s local declaration of emergency (starting March 12th) but does not provide protection for renters struggling to pay rent due to significant medical expenses. Palo Alto renters struggling to pay rent due to significant medical expenses should reference the County ordinance, while renters who an eviction notice between March 12th and March 23rd should reference Palo Alto’s ordinance.

Eviction protections for small businesses in Palo Alto are provided by the county ordinance.

Santa Clara (city) Eviction Moratorium Ordinance— On March 24th, the Santa Clara City Council approved an ordinance protecting tenants from eviction.

  1. City of Santa Clara ordinance
  2. Information for Landlords
  3. Notice of Inability to Pay Document

Mountain View Eviction Moratorium Ordinance— On March 27th, the Mountain View City Council approved an ordinance protecting tenants from eviction. In addition to the provisions covered by the countywide ordinance, the Mountain View ordinance explicitly includes mobile homes.

The City Council also dedicated $500,000 from the city’s affordable housing fund for rent relief for tenants.

Sunnyvale Eviction Moratorium Ordinance–On March 31st, the Sunnyvale City Council approved an ordinance protecting tenants from eviction (draft). In addition to the provisions covered by the countywide ordinance, the Sunnyvale ordinance explicitly includes mobile homes and has a 180-day grace period for repayment of any back rent.

State Action

Currently, the strongest statewide protection from eviction is the Judicial Council’s April 6th emergency rule. The Judicial Council ruling does not prevent landlords from filing evictions, but does say that no court action will be taken on evictions until 90 days after the Governor lifts the statewide declaration of emergency (currently set to expire May 31st). Evictiosn that are “necessary to protect public health and safety” are exempted from the rule. Read more from the Western Center for Law and Poverty’s summary here.

Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order on Monday March 16th, recognizing the severe impact of losing one’s home during the pandemic, and authorizing cities to take action to stop evictions of tenants faced with eviction due  to COVID-19, though it fell short of requiring that all cities adopt ordinances or enacting a Statewide requirement.

On March 27th, the Governor issued an executive order that delays the enforcement of eviction orders for any tenant impacted by COVID-19 through May, 31, 2020. Read more here– Executive-Order-327.

On April 6th, the California Judicial Council adopted an emergency court rule that effectively stops prosecution or court enforcement of all evictions, other than those necessary to protect public health and safety, until 90 days after the end of the statewide COVID-19 declaration of emergency.

Information for Tenants

The Santa Clara County Office of Supportive Housing (OSH) information page on the eviction moratorium contains information on the County’s ordinance, as well as forms for documenting loss of income.

On March 27th, SV@Home and the Law Foundation Silicon Valley hosted a live conversation about the County of Santa Clara County’s  Tenant Eviction Mortatorium. Check it out here in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

Find out more by reading this Law Foundation of Silicon Valley FAQ.

The Santa Clara County moratorium does not apply to otherwise lawful or at-fault evictions for reasons other than nonpayment of rent due to a substantial loss and/or out-of-pocket medical expense as a result of COVID-19. However, the statewide Judicial Council ruling from April 6th effectively stops any court action or enforcement of all evictions, other than those necessary to protect public health and safety, for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.

If you receive an eviction notice during this COVID-19 emergency, reach out to the Law Foundation at 408-280-2424.

If you are having difficulty paying your rent or other housing related costs, contact the Santa Clara County Homelessness Prevention System  by calling (408) 780-9134 or emailing covid19help@sacredheartcs.org to get information about about temporary financial assistance (e.g., rent, deposit, or utility payments) and other supportive services available to low-income families or individuals. Please call first before venturing out to the office. As of March 27th, there is currently a waiting list for financial assistance.

 

Information for  Landlords

If you are a landlord and you initiate an eviction for non-payment of rent or a no-fault cause during the moratorium, you must:

You still have a right to collect rent if the tenant qualifies for protection under the moratorium. However, the tenant has until 120 days after the termination of the moratorium to repay the rent and the landlord cannot charge a late fee.

The Santa Clara County moratorium does not apply to otherwise lawful or at-fault evictions for reasons other than nonpayment of rent due to a substantial loss and/or out-of-pocket medical expense as a result of COVID-19. However, the statewide Judicial Council ruling from April 6th effectively stops any court action or enforcement of all evictions, other than those necessary to protect public health and safety, for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.

 

Even though housing is considered an essential service under both local and state directives, there are numerous challenges being faced by both nonprofit and for-profit developers. This includes building inspectors with reduced hours or cities that have stopped building inspections, worker shortages as staff from subcontractors choose not to come to work, and interruptions in supply lines. With construction delays, developers may miss development deadlines and incur additional interest costs, putting development at risk. SV@Home is collaborating with regional partners to collect important data about city development services and develop responses to these challenges.

 

SV@Home’s Call to Action

Congress has approved funding for housing as a part of its stimulus package. It is expected that the next round of stimulus funding will include even more funding for housing and affordable housing.

Recent Federal Stimulus Package Provides Key Funding

A $2 trillion relief package was signed into law on March 27th, providing $150 billion in aid for state and local governments and $12.4 billion in funding for US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs:

    • Tenant Based Rental Assistance — $1.25 billion
    • Public Housing Operating Fund — $685 million
    • Housing Opportunity for Persons with AIDS — $65 million
    • Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) — $ 5 billion
    • Homeless Assistant Grants — $4 billion
    • Project Based Rental Assistance — $1 billion
    • Housing for the Elderly — $ 50 million
    • Housing for Persons with Disabilities — $15 million

So what does this mean for Santa Clara County? While some of the funds are competitive, so it is unclear whether Santa Clara County will benefit, we do know about some funding coming our way. Here are the current numbers as detailed by HUD–

Community Development Block Grants

  • San Jose– $8,947,319
  • Cupertino– $389,308
  • Gilroy– $468,300
  • Milpitas– $592,761
  • Mountain View– $592,761
  • Palo Alto– $501,355
  • Santa Clara– $1,039,874
  • Sunnyvale– $1,184,793
  • Santa Clara County– $1,520,720

Home Investment Partnership (HOME)

  • San Jose– $3,319,683
  • Santa Clara– $433,815
  • Sunnyvale– $426,754
  • Santa Clara County– $1,010,604
Emergency Shelter Grants
  • San Jose– $778,209
Housing for People With AIDS (HOPWA)
  • San Jose– $1,440,393

Other Actions

  • A 60- day foreclosure moratorium on all federally-backed mortgage loans, and up to 180 days forbearance (and an additional 180 day extension if needed) for borrowers of a federally-backed mortgage loan.
  • Up to 90-day forbearance of residential mortgage loan payments for multifamily properties of 5+ units with federally-backed loans if borrowers do not evict or charge late fees to tenants during the forbearance period.
  • A 120-day moratorium on eviction filings or other legal action to charge fees or penalties if the property is insured, guaranteed, supplemented, protected, or assisted by HUD, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

 

The Bay Area Housing Advocacy Coalition, in coordination with SV@Home and other regional partners– YIMBY Action, SPUR, and the Bay Area Council– has created this resource page to provide information for homebuilders, renters, and homeowners in the Bay Area during the COVID-19 “Shelter In Place” order. This information was gathered from elected officials and staff from cities and counties throughout the Bay Area. Please note that this information has not been independently verified.

Since this information may change over time, if you have up-to-date information, additional data, or questions, please reach out to Alison Cingolani at Alison@siliconvalleyathome.org.

Bay Area-Wide County Information:

Bay Area-wide City Information:

There is a broad network of local government and nonprofit partners working together to address immediate needs in our community. The most comprehensive location to access resources and information, donate to the effort, or plug in as a volunteer is #SiliconValleyStrong. Silicon Valley Strong supports residents, businesses, and nonprofits that have been affected by COVID-19, and the page is available in multiple languages. Here you’ll find:

  • Information on help with food and rent
  • Links to resources in local cities and towns
  • A virtual job fair for current job openings
  • Help for seniors and families
  • Physical and mental health resources
  • Ways to support local small restaurants and businesses
  • Resources for families on distance learning
  • The latest coronavirus response news, and more

The City of San Jose has also put together a detailed webpage for COVID-19 resources, and an additional page focused on employers, workers and businesses.

You can also dial Santa Clara County’s 211 at any time for homeowner, tenant, and landlord assistance in 150 languages.

The Santa Clara County Public Health Department webpage provides a one-stop resource for information on COVID-19, including a series of dashboards tracking the spread of COVID-19, information on how to protect yourself and others, and specifics on the Shelter in Place Order.

Statewide resources

 Additional resources accessible across California, information on state actions during the COVID-19 crisis, and state-level information about the spread of the virus can be found on the California COVID-19 response webpage.

Older Californians who need someone to talk to can call the new statewide Friendship Line at 1-888-670-1360.

All Home Statement—All Home advances coordinated, innovative service delivery and develops coalitions to challenge the systems that perpetuate homelessness in the 9-County Bay Area.

Monterey Bay Economic Partnership Position Paper— The Monterey Bay Economic Partnership (MBEP) is a regional member-supported nonprofit organization consisting of public, private and civic entities located throughout the counties of Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz.

National Low Income Housing Coalition’s Federal Regulatory Recommendations— The National Low Income Housing Coalition works to achieve socially just public policy that ensures people with the lowest incomes in the United States have affordable and decent home

Non Profit Housing Association of Northern California’s Policy Statement— The Non Profit Housing Association (NPH) works to advance meaningful, critical policy solutions, and to strengthen the affordable housing community that implements the programs and policies for the 9-County Bay Area

Affordable Rental Housing A.C.T.I.O.N. Recommendations to Congress –The ACTION Campaign is a coalition of over 2,300 national, state, and local organizations and businesses working to address our nation’s severe shortage of affordable rental housing by protecting, expanding and strengthening the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit.

Terner Center’s Lessons From the Great Recession- Housing Aid Now!–The UC Berkeley Terner Center for Housing Innovation, a collaboration between the College of Environmental Design (CED) and the Haas School of Business,  leverages applied research and best practices to inform and advance innovation in the planning, financing, design and development of the built environment.

The Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition Recommendations — AHTCC is a trade organization of housing professionals who advocate for affordable rental housing financed using the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit.

National Alliance to End Homelessness–The Alliance is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization committed to preventing and ending homelessness in the United States

Joint Statement from State and Regional Organizations– Immediate Actions Necessary to Mitigate the Economic Impacts of COVID-19 on Affordable Housing Developments (4/8/20)— A statement from the California Housing Consortium, California Housing Partnership Corporation, Housing California, Non Profit Housing Association of Northern California, Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing, Sacramento Housing Alliance, California Coalition for Rural Housing, the Kennedy Commission, and the San Diego Housing Federation.

Enterprise Community Partners Northern California Policy Statement-Enterprise Community Partners brings together nationwide know-how, partners, policy leadership and investment to multiply the impact of local affordable housing development.

Tackling Affordable Housing and Homelessness During and After COVID-19: A Framework and Package of Immediate and Long-Term Policy Solutions — A framework of solutions to guide decision-makers as they respond to affordable housing and homelessness challenges, from the California Housing Consortium, California Housing Partnership Corporation, Housing California, California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, Western Center on Law and Poverty, Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing, the San Diego Housing Federation, California Coalition for Rural Housing, Non Profit Housing Association of Northern California, Sacramento Housing Alliance, and the Kennedy Commission.