In a stunning display of cruelty and heartlessness, the owner of one Sacramento residential hotel has decided to hand out eviction notices during the holiday season. If the Ezralow Company gets its way, dozens of paying tenants will soon be on the streets in the middle of winter — and during a raging COVID-19 pandemic.
“Amid a severe surge in coronavirus cases and with Sacramento nighttime temperatures dipping into the 30s, dozens of tenants could soon be evicted from a River District residential hotel,” wrote The Sacramento Bee’s Theresa Clift. “The Calabasas-based Ezralow Co. sent notices to at least 38 tenants of the Hawthorn Suites on Nov. 16, saying they needed to leave so the hotel could be renovated or sold,”
The move could make dozens of people like Sofia Garcia, 47, homeless.
“Lately I’ve been very triggered to the point where I can’t sleep, I can’t eat,” Garcia told The Bee. “I’m sitting here biting my nails and thinking what to do.”
If she’s forced out of her room at the Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham in the River District, she said she’ll have to sleep in her truck. Unfortunately, the prospect of making people homeless during a winter COVID-19 surge doesn’t faze the Ezralow Co., whose lawyer says the tenants have no protection from city and state rules designed to prevent evictions.
City officials disagree, saying the city’s “tenant protection act” applies to residents who have lived in the hotel for more than a year. In addition, the city attorney says the eviction notices issued by the hotel owners lacked a “COVID-19 declaration” and must be reissued to comply with California’s moratorium on evictions during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Contrary to the assertions of the deputy city attorney, we remain adamant that the property owner has fully complied with all legal obligations owing to each of the occupants of the subject properties,” said Ezralow Co. lawyer Sid Rosenberg in an email to The Sacramento Bee.
The hotel’s owners seem determined to press ahead with these callous evictions, which they say are necessary to convert the building into an apartment complex. Fourteen of the hotel’s tenants were offered one month’s free rent if they agreed to leave by Jan. 15. Twenty-four other tenants were ordered to leave by Dec. 15 but were offered no financial help.
Anti-eviction activists are fighting the abominable action. So is Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who has implored the company to rethink its strategy and allow the tenants to remain in their homes.
“Beyond the legal particulars, I would call on the property’s owner to display a conscience in this difficult time,” Steinberg said.
The Ezralow Company’s decision to pursue eviction proceedings in this manner would be cruel and immoral at any time. But the company’s decision to throw people into the streets during a global pandemic represents a stunning new low for landlords.
Unfortunately, the residents facing homelessness in Sacramento are not alone. Up to 40 million Americans could face eviction in the coming months as eviction protections expire, according to research by the Aspen Institute. The sheer number of potential evictions underscores the need for federal, state and local leaders to do more to protect renters from homelessness during this global emergency.
In the meantime, Sacramento officials should do everything in their power to prevent the Ezralow evictions from moving forward. Concerned Sacramento residents can also do their part by giving the Ezralow Co. a call at 818-223-3500, extension 0, and asking to speak with CEO Bryan Ezralow.