Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Merced City Council Gives Final Approval to Anti-Eviction Law Protecting Tenants

Despite an intense lobbying effort by local realtors, the Merced City Council gave final approval yesterday to the Central Valley’s first anti-eviction law. The law seeks to stop evictions of innocent tenants after foreclosure. It will take effect on December 21, 2011.

This was the second reading of the ordinance. Usually, the second reading is a mere formality and matters are adopted by consent, meaning there is no debate, public comment, or additional testimony. However, under pressure from local realtors, the anti-eviction law was pulled from the consent calendar. Two hours of discussion followed. The Council chambers were packed with supporters and opponents of the law.

The Council voted 5-2 in favor of the law. The vote was met with a standing ovation from local residents who came to the hearing to support the measure, including members of Tenants Together, Occupy Merced, Journey for Justice, and UC Merced.

Mayor Pro Tem Bill Blake and Council Members John Carlisle, Noah Lor and Mary-Michal Rawling were steadfast in their support for the law at all hearings. These council members consistently put people above politics and stood firm in the face of a misinformation campaign by local realtors. Council Member Josh Pedrozo surprised the crowd by voting in favor of the law after voting against it on November 7. Mayor Spriggs and Council Member Michele Gabriault-Acosta voted in opposition to the law.

Members of Tenants Together immediately praised the Council’s action. “The Council has done the right thing,” said Angela Fragulia, a renter displaced from her Merced home after foreclosure. Her story was noted by Council Member Lor when explaining his support for the ordinance. Michelle Dirickson, another renter evicted by foreclosure, commented: “this law doesn't cost anybody anything. It doesn't hurt anybody, and it helps families and it stabilizes communities."

This is a game changer for Merced tenants and the entire community. Under the new law, tenants will be able to stay in their homes, rather than being callously tossed into the street by banks that care nothing about creating unnecessary homelessness, vacancy and blight.

Tenants with questions about the new law can contact Tenants Together’s Foreclosure Hotline toll free at 1-888-495-8020 or contact Tenants Together by email at info@tenantstogether.org. TT will be distributing a fact sheet for Merced tenants on their rights under the new law.

Congratulations to our Merced members and allies on this tremendous victory!

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