MarinIJ article by: Matthew Pera
The San Rafael City Council has approved a temporary ban on residential rent increases in the Canal area, the neighborhood with the highest rate of coronavirus cases in Marin County.
The council voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve an emergency ordinance enacting the ban, which is set to take effect Feb. 1 and last through the end of the year.
The ban applies to properties with more than two residences in census tracts 1122.01 and 1122.02, which make up the Canal neighborhood. About 80% of residential rentals in San Rafael are in those two census tracts, according to city officials.
Homes built after Feb. 1, 1995, in addition to granny units and mobile homes, are exempted from the ban.
In the predominantly Latino Canal neighborhood, more than 25% of renters live in overcrowded housing, compared to 5% of renters countywide, according to a city report. The report noted that overcrowding can increase coronavirus transmission.
Additionally, the neighborhood is “in the bottom tenth percentile statewide in terms of the percentage of low-income renters who pay more than 50% of their income on housing costs,” the report says.
The neighborhood not only has the highest rate of coronavirus cases in Marin, it has the highest positivity rate for coronavirus tests. About 15% of tests have come back with positive results in the 1122.01 census tract, which is five times the rate countywide of 3%, according to city officials. In the 1122.01 census tract, the rate is 8%.
“The goal of this ordinance is to provide temporary relief to those residing in the two census tracts most disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and with the highest housing instability,” said Assistant City Manager Cristine Alilovich.
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