COVID-19: Hayward moves to protect renters. ‘I’m a little disappointed this doesn’t cover all people’

The Hayward City Council went virtual on Tuesday night as the city embraced social distancing.

-Coronavirus news briefs from Hayward:
>>Hayward approves 90-day moratorium on evictions.
>>City eyeing vacant building for quarantines.
>>Hayward testing site shows 26% positives for virus.

One week after postponing a moratorium on evictions in Hayward due to COVID-19, the Hayward City Council unanimously approved the temporary protections for residential tenants on Tuesday night.

Hayward beatThe urgency moratorium, effective immediately, lasts for 90 days. The ordinance also expands the city’s current mediation services to help renters negotiate a repayment schedule with property owners for missed rent during the state’s emergency declaration.

“This is not a moratorium from paying rent,” Hayward Councilmember Mark Salinas said. “If you can pay rent, we would like you to pay rent.”

While the ordinance gives relief to residential renters, it does not include the same protections for commercial renters.

“I’m a little disappointed this doesn’t cover all people,” said Hayward Councilmember Aisha Wahab, who first offered the moratorium referral two weeks ago. “Covid will only exacerbate existing inequities.”

However, the city is working on a number of other policy ideas to help commercial renters, including bridge loans, rental subsidies, low-cost deferred loans, and loan forgiveness.

On Thursday, the city announced they will be offering 76 individual $5,000 grants to small businesses in Hayward with less 25 or fewer employees, in addition, to independent restaurant owners to help cope with the significant drop in customers due to the COVID-19 shelter in place order. The grants for eligible recipients will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis, the city said.

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In the event the coronavirus pandemic hits Hayward and St. Rose Hospital particularly hard, the city is already in the planning stages of locating vacant city buildings that could be used as isolation and quarantine areas, Hayward City Manager Kelly McAdoo said.

Among them is potentially the Matt Jimenez Community Center on Ruus Road in Hayward, which includes a gymnasium. Another possibility is St. Rose Hospital, a significant part of the health care safety net in central and south county, which can use its existing large-sized tent.

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Hayward’s much-lauded free COVID-19 testing clinic on Huntwood Avenue began releasing statistics on the number of positive results. The first day of testing last Monday brought roughly 700 residents to the site at the Hayward Fire Department’s Station 7. After a screening process, 207 patients were administered the test. Among them 54 tested positive, a rate of 26 percent.

On Friday, Hayward city officials announced that while the clinic will continue to offer free testing to anyone regardless of whether they live in the city, and without a doctor’s recommendation, they set some new parameters.

Patients with temperatures of more than 100 degrees, who are also showing symptoms of the coronavirus, will only be tested, the city said.

In the meantime, Fremont is also looking into setting up their clinic.