ALCO advances payments to non-profits; Union says hotel owner is profiteering; Oakland passes moratorium

Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting.

-Coronavirus news briefs from Alameda County and Oakland:
>>Alameda County moves to help non-profits
>>Union says Oakland hotel owner is profiting from crisis.
>>Oakland passes strong protections for renters.

Alameda County’s roughly 300 Community-Based Organization are teetering on the verge of collapse at the moment when their various social services are needed the most.

Alameda County beatNon-profits who deliver many of the county’s safety net services already operate on razor-thin margins. The coronavirus outbreak led the Alameda County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to advance payments to its CBOs for the rest of this month through the end of April.

“These CBOs are the extension of our county family,” Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley said on Tuesday. “It is fundamentally important in order to continue governmental operations as effectively as possible during this crisis.”

The county’s resolution is intended to keep its CBOs in operation as a stop-gap until county staff can bring back a longer-term solution to the Board of Superivors, perhaps in two weeks, Alameda County Administrator Susan Muranishi said. “Our goal is to be sure that we take care of community-based providers.”

Many of the county’s CBOs operate under different types of contracting models. Some are monthly for service and some on a flat-fee basis.

Several representatives of CBOs in the county told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that the services they provide are seriously suffering as result of the pandemic and may not survive much longer with additional aid.

But Miley, among other supervisors assuaged the concerns of some CBOs that Tuesday’s action to advance payments is not a loan from the county. “It’s not a loan,” Miley, adamently said, “or I wouldn’t be voting for it. It’s on the record. It’s not the loan.”

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Alameda County’s interest in leasing two hotels near the Oakland Coliseum to house the unsheltered during the COVID-19 shelter in place is now in the hands of the state, county staff said on Tuesday.

The state, not the county, will hold the lease, said Colleen Chawla, director of the Alameda County Social Services Agency said.

Alameda County counsel Donna Ziegler added the Board of Supervisors approval of the hotel leasing item on Tuesday’s agenda was merely perfunctory. “You are authorizing negotiations that have largely already occurred,” Ziegler told the board. “We know now the county will not be moving forward with the lease agreement with the state.”

However, some additional terms of the leases were reported on Tuesday. Upon leasing the hotels, both located on Edes Avenue in Oakland, the state will not retain the current hotel staff. They will not be negative impacted by the change over, Chawla said, and will receive similar compensation, or will be assigned to another hotel. The low-income housing non-profit Abode Services will be the on-site provider.

Meanwhile, Unite Here, the union that represents hotel workers, said the proposed $3.2 million lease price to the owner of the two hotels amounts to “crisis profiteering at the expense of the workers.” The cost covers use of the hotels through April 30.

Alameda County Supervisor Richard Valle assured the union’s representative that he would not allow profiteering to occur as a result of the deal. “As a former union member, I have a keen interest that nobody profiteers at the expense of workers.”

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Oakland joined the growing number of Alameda County cities to enact protections for tenants who may not be able to pay rent due to the impacts of COVID-19. Oakland’s ordinance, authored by Coucilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas, may be the strongest yet approved.

Oakland beatThe council’s move came just minutes after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a statewide moratorium on evictions due to the coronavirus.

But Oakland’s urgency moratorium, goes further, and includes protections for residential and commercial tenants, and prohibits rent increases, and late fees.

“I’ve heard from many people who are scared,” Bas said, and forced to choose between paying rent, health care, child care, and other costs. “They’re in limbo.”

Bas announced she would offer the moratorium at an Oakland council meeting two weeks ago. The ordinance was originally slated to return to the council on April 7, but instead, a special meeting was called for Friday.

The moratorium, which is backed by the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Oakland Jobs and Housing Coalition, does not cover single-family home renters and local businesses with 100 or more employees.