City of Oakland Mayor Virtual Townhall Recap

Last night, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf hosted a virtual townhall in regards to the pandemic. You can view the townhall meeting here. Here’s a recap of what topics were covered:

General Info presented by Mayor Schaaf

  • Main change is the extension of SIP to early May with new prohibitions 
  • Schools will not reconvene this school year
  • Started testing site for first responders, and city employees
  • 2 hotels are starting to get utilized – one for homeless, seniors (+ FEMA trailers arriving Friday)
  • Update on school meals 
  • Oakland Covid-19 Fund: 
  • Violations of SIP can be reported through County’s website: 
  • Mortgage banks are starting to offer 90-day payment holidays; BofA’s is during the length of this current SIP. Check with your lender. 

Chanee Franklin Minor – Rent Adjustment Program manager 

  • Eviction and Rent Increase Moratorium (most prohibitive in state, passed by council last week) for most residential and commercial properties through end of May 31st. “Complete defense” for non-payment, landlords cannot charge late fees
  • Courts are not taking action on eviction proceedings 
  • Moratorium on lockouts by Sheriff
  • Oakland’s Housing Dept. is reaching out now to property owners to find further solutions

Daryel Dunston – Homeless Administrator 

  • Current on-the-ground measures: City has doubled # of encampments receiving hygiene services 3x/wk, plus increase in garbage collection. Also, ceased closure of encampments during this time. 
  • Strategic measures: Working with partners (such as shelter partners, CDC), measuring occupancy/trends
  • Planning measures for a surge: Working with county partners for isolation and quarantine spaces

Jenna Gerry – senior attorney at Legal Aid at Work 

  • SF-based non-profit, assists low-income working families, offers free legal advice, and free virtual assistance for individuals that need it. More info on their website and FAQ: 
  • 1.9 new unemployment claims in CA last month, 878k claims just last week. EDD wait times, 450 staff have been re-allocated to assist EDD. 
  • Main provisions for workers and how they may have been changed recently (Families First Coronavirus Response and CARES Acts). 
    • Sick leave: 
      • CA law= 3 days, Oakland= 5 days for small employers (<10 employees), otherwise 9 days
      • Federal law now = 10 days of additional paid sick days paid by employer (if employer has 499 or fewer employees) 
      • Can be used for yourself or a family member due to Covid 19
      • However, only available to those still employed. May not be available to you if your employer had to shut down. 
      • Up to $511/day. 
      • 2/3 pay if you’re using it for childcare due to a school or care closure, capped at $200/day. 
      • Clarified that days can be taken intermittently, except in the case that it’s because you are diagnosed/quarantined because of Covid 19 – in that case, the whole point is to take a chunk of time so that you can stay properly isolated or quarantined. 
    • Unemployment Benefits 
      • For unemployed or underemployed
      • Usually: $50-$450/week up to 26 weeks
      • Now: 3 big changes 
        • Increase of weekly benefits by $600/week + whatever you would have through July
        • Additional 13 weeks of benefits (26 + 13 = 39 weeks)
        • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program: new program for independent contractors, gig workers, etc. but still getting set up/application not yet available. Would also be through EDD, but claims would be retroactive to January. Although many are miscategorized under CA law 
      • State Family Leave or State Disability not restricted to immigration documentation status. Available to you as long as it’s on your pay stub. Up to 60-70% of your income. 

Alexa Jeffress – Director of Workforce Development (help for small businesses)

  • City has posted a survey on its website, please participate.  
  • City launched a Small Business Emergency Grant Program for very low-income business owners ($5k grants are very limited)
  • SBA Disaster Loan (aka Economic Injury Assistance Loan) newly streamlined. Includes a $10k advance that can come to you in as little as 3 days. 3.75%, or 2.75% for non-profits. 
  • SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), forgivable for payroll and certain approved expenses. Available to sole proprietors. Available to 501c(3)s, churches and related organizations may be eligible. Review the SBA’s guidelines. 
  • Also look at other organizations: 
    • crowd-sourced loans up to $15k, Pacific Community Ventures, Working Solutions, Main Street Launch, among others
    • There are also organizations working on grants and loans for artists and non-profit arts organizations. Those resources will also be listed on the website. 
  • Info on the commercial eviction moratorium also on their website. 
  • Businesses need to post a Social Distancing Protocol if they are continuing to operate (not remote). 
  • State level – free deferral of sales tax for eligible small businesses for up to 1 year without fines or penalties. 
  • Tax – Alameda County will waive late fee for late payment of property taxes (form will become available) 
  • Oakland Chamber of Commerce is maintaining a list of businesses that are remaining open for restaurants take-out/delivery during SIP. Businesses can apply for a temporary white curb in front of their business. 

Dr. Bechara Sukar – Kaiser 

  • Globally: 1M confirmed cases
  • US: largest # of current cases
  • Starting to see a flattening of the curve
  • 70% of Kaiser’s outpatient care is now through telephone/virtual visits, more utilization of mail delivery of medications
  • Good news: they are seeing a 40% decrease week over week of flu, cough, cold (leading indicators of future hospitalizations). 
  • Surge planning: 
    • Better equipped after past years’ experience with power outages, etc. 
    • Surge space planning/preparation is in process
  • Seeing uptick in testing, test availability, primarily for first responders

Congresswoman Barbara Lee 

  • 1st package: $8.3B, included $3B for development of treatments and vaccines, $2B for Public Health (including funding for community health centers, free testing but test kits, PPE, ventilators are still in short supply)
  • 2nd package, Families First Coronavirus Response Act: strengthened unemployment benefits, food assistance program funding, additional Medicare funding 
  • 3rd package, CARES Act: $2T bill, includes funding for state/local governments, more unemployment insurance benefits, small business and non-profit relief 
  • Lee is on the Appropriations Committee – fought for clarifications that checks also go to seniors 
  • Maxine Waters has fought for funding to help stabilize affordable housing 
  • There will be a 4th bill – invites input on our/Mayor’s priorities for Oakland. 

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