Supervisors to weigh rent freeze for northwest Marin through 2021

02/03/2021

The Marin County Board of Supervisors will consider freezing rent next week for residents in the northern area of West Marin until the end of year. The emergency ordinance would impact roughly 2,700 residents in Point Reyes Station, Nicasio, Marshall, Tomales, Dillon Beach and everywhere in between. The freeze covers United States Census Tract 1330, which had a 7.2 percent poverty rate before the pandemic. “We would like to lower the unsustainable strain on those households that struggled to pay rent even before the pandemic began, let alone after almost a year of additional hardship,” planning manager Leelee Thomas said in a press release. A similar rent freeze will be considered in Marin City, where 18 percent of residents live below the poverty line. (Homes built after 1995 would be exempt because state law limits local jurisdictions from regulating rent on these units.) The proposal is the latest in a series of actions taken by the county to create a safety net for its most vulnerable residents. An eviction moratorium for renters experiencing financial hardship tied to Covid-19 lasts through June 30, and a rental assistance program has paid out $3 million. Still, the Marin County Community Development Agency estimates that 10,700 Marin households are at imminent risk of displacement or eviction, with an estimated 8,270 children living in those households. They face an overwhelming accumulation of overdue rent; Marin households have already accrued $74 million in accumulated debt during Covid-19. And while other parts of the Bay Area have seen substantial declines in rent because of increased vacancy, Marin rents have remained stable or slightly increased. “Many of our local landlords have not increased rent during the pandemic, and we appreciate their compassion,” Ms. Thomas said. “But there have been some notable exceptions.”