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These are Trying Times

These are trying times. COVID-19 has impacted the world beyond measure. In our little corner of the world, the California government is doing its best to protect us from the economic and social fallout resulting from this deadly virus.

On the 16th of March, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order protecting Californians from evictions and foreclosures. The order grants local governments the authority to halt evictions for renters and homeowners. If someone is going through a foreclosure between March 16 and May 31, 2020, the process will be significantly stifled. Consumers also have a safeguard against utility shutoffs.

The Governor stated:

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 to take up this authority to protect Californians.

The Executive Order comes right on time as Californians are bracing themselves against the economic tide as a result of COVID-19. Many people are experiencing a loss in wages, the inability to pay their rent and mortgage. Some consumers are already experiencing difficulty covering monthly utilities.

To be clear, The Order does not relieve tenants from their rent obligations. It also does not limit a landlord’s ability to recover past due rent. But it does provide a temporary blanket of protection for lessees through May 31, 2020. There is a strong possibility that the effective date may be extended.

Banks and other financial institutions are also included within the Executive Order. The California government requests that they halt foreclosures and evictions during this precarious season. This particular section of the order is pertinent because reports indicate that 70% of Californians have less than $1000 in savings. Studies show that most Americans are two paychecks away from being homeless. This measure is a stop gap to mitigate potentially disastrous economic side effects.

The California Public Utilities Commission has been asked to monitor public and private utility providers within the state. The Executive Order hones in on providing protections for customers for essential utilities. Electricity, water, gas, landline telephone service, internet, and cellular phone offerings will be supervised on a weekly basis.

The prevailing sentiment is that conditions will get worse before they get better. Governor Newsom is doing everything within his power to ensure that Californians are able to keep their heads above water. With the government, municipalities, financial institutions, real estate professionals, utility providers and community coming together, residents will be able to thrive amidst the chaos.

Californians must keep in mind that this is a temporary situation. Leaning on one’s family, neighbors, friends and faith systems is a good strategy to remain sane and keep the predators at bay.