Sixty-day notice. Feels inadequate for eight years and $90,000 in rent. Every memory my son has is lodged somewhere in this house, and the happiest years of my own life framed within its walls. However, we, like so many renters, are having our tenancy terminated. It’s called “no fault,” but the real reason is that we stand as the last bulwark to windfall profits to be gained in this disaster economy.
My landlords never provided upkeep or repairs. This house was purchased as a rental and had been unencumbered revenue for decades. It won’t qualify for conventional financing due to disrepair. These days, it’s “worth” whatever the landlord can extort from a desperate Camp Fire refugee, flush with insurance proceeds.
Census figures place 45 percent of Californians as renters. We have only the most basic protections, and as fires and floods upend California, we are among the most vulnerable populations. The Camp Fire was a natural disaster, but the one taking shape today is completely man-made and within our means to control.
We don’t have to allow rapacious greed and speculation to take the reins in our recovery. Let’s acknowledge that disaster is not bounded by geography, and extend protections and help to the proxy victims whose lives are being devastated.
Short-term solutions: The City Council should limit the number of no-fault evictions/terminations allowed per month. Long-term: Establish a rent board for the city of Chico and provide no-fault evictions with 120-day notices and relocation money, among other provisions.
The generosity of this community was a model of what it looks like to love your neighbor. But does that spirit stop at a property line?
Instead of asking if someone’s property was burnt, let’s ask, “Did your life implode from the Camp Fire? Do you face insurmountable odds to keep even a modicum of the life you cherished and worked to preserve?”
Many in Paradise will rebuild, but can we say the same for those renters pushed out without assistance or compassion?
My house was not damaged in the Camp Fire, but my home has been destroyed by it.