Key Highlights

  • California tenants plan month-long rent strides across the state
  • Tenants argue they will be unable to pay landlords in foreseeable future despite Governor’s action for 2-month delay on imposing evictions

Tenant activists in California are organizing rent strikes throughout the Golden State arguing that Governor Gavin Newsom’s order of temporarily blocking evictions for two-months as a response to the coronavirus is inadequate at best. Other states have taken similar actions as states’ governors have no interest in evicting tenants already severely impacted by job loss and potential illness during this pandemic crisis.

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Newsom’s order, though delaying evictions through May, does require tenants to repay the full amount of unpaid rent at a later time. Simultaneously, Newsom’s order does not prevent landlords from allowing landlords to begin the eviction process, file notices and to move towards evicting tenants when the moratorium ends.

Additionally, Newsom’s order requires that tenants declare in writing and document that their inability to pay rent is due to COVID-19 . Such documentation is next to impossible for undocumented workers, people working in “non-traditional” employment and workers dealing with coronavirus medical problems themselves.

Newsom’s order also allows landlords to move ahead with evictions for reasons beyond their inability to pay, including such things as building remodeling or taking the rental off the market altogether.

Activists are calling for a complete moratorium on evictions and foreclosures and for a statewide suspension of rent via a rent freeze or rent forgiveness so that tenants don’t build up intractable debt.

Carolina Reid, a faculty research adviser at the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley, said that “…without drastic action,” there is a strong possibility that the confluence of the economy and housing market could clash toward another crash as the foreclosure crisis of 2008 unveiled. Reid said, “I’m worried about what happens when this crisis ends.”

Thanks to The Guardian.

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