COVID-19 Tenant Resources – came from Chris Krohn

Dear tenant of Santa Cruz,

You are receiving this email because you contacted us through about potentially experiencing some kind of precarity around rent in the midst of a global pandemic that has taken income and stability away from many of us. We are reaching out as an ad hoc group of Santa Cruz tenants who are coming together in hopes that providing each other with mutual support will enable us to move through this time with slightly less harm and more security.

It is not right that our landlords continue to collect rent after so many of us have lost our jobs and some our health. Yet, that is the reality we are living in, and we want to support each other as much as possible. 

Attached to this email is a list of resources that you might find useful in navigating the next few days. Our aim in offering resources is to make accessible all of the protections and resources that could act in your favor during this time. In understanding the limitations of the county tenant protections, we know that the only thing that will keep us safe is our support and solidarity amongst each other, and we’re working against the clock.

We must work together to support the most at-risk among us: we know that some of you will simply be unable to pay your rent this month. And while there is currently a moratorium on evictions in the county, we do not want to understate the potential stakes of not paying rent. We hope these resources are useful and please contact us if you have any questions or concerns. 

Here is an explanation of the eviction moratoriums passed in the city of Santa Cruz, Scott’s Valley, Watsonville, and Santa Cruz County.

Here is a link to sample letter templates for Santa Cruz tenants to inform their landlords that they are unable to pay rent. The template also includes sample letters from employers to document loss of income. As always, make sure to communicate with your landlord and boss in writing (either over text message or via email). The eviction moratorium currently only protects those who have lost income due to COVID-19, so it’s important to inform your landlord that you cannot pay rent for the month of April, and provide documentation of loss of income if they request it. These templates can be adapted as needed.

According to the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, proof of loss of employment can be: 

  1. Letter terminating your employment
  2. Documents for Employment Development Department for unemployment
  3. Documents from other government benefits
  4. Pay stubs from before your termination
  5. Receipts for increased expenses (e.g. child care)
  6. If you are paid under the table, letter from employer (see template linked above)

The California Department of Consumer Affairs has compiled this guide to all of your legal rights as a tenant.

If you live in Santa Cruz County and have specific needs related to COVID-19, or if you’re interested in helping to meet the needs of others, you can fill out this form for Santa Cruz County Mutual Aid.

Here is a link to TANC’s (Tenant and Neighborhood Council – Oakland) pandemic organizing guide, which includes information about forming a tenant’s association, reaching out to landlords, and strategies for taking action.

Here is a link to the Philadelphia Tenants Union’s COVID-19 organizing guide, which covers reaching out to landlords and tenants, evictions, tenant mapping, and taking action.

This is a guide to resources for undocumented people during the pandemic, broken down by state. It includes financial resources, mutual aid networks and organizations, and medical resources (among others).

If you have questions about any of the information above, you can reach out to:

  • 831-222-0359
  • Instagram: @droprentsc or @operationwhiteflag
  • Facebook: Santa Cruz Tenant Power