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San Diego Tenants Stage Rent Strike In Response To Coronavirus Pandemic

 

kpbs - A caravan of protesters wound through San Diego on Friday, part of a statewide rent strike.

More than a month into the coronavirus lockdown and resulting local economic collapse, many tenants are stuck between having to choose between paying rent or paying for other necessities.

Some tenant advocates say the government hasn’t done enough to support renters.

"The government is more concerned on this economic crisis than the people that make this economy work, which are workers. We’re exchanging this pandemic for a mass eviction crisis," said Grace Martinez, an organizer with the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment. Her group helped organize the caravan and strike Friday.

 

America's Economic Freefall: Jobless claims top 30 million as coronavirus crisis deepens

The TODAY Show - The economic toll continues to mount with 30 million Americans now out of work during the pandemic, and many others are saying they’ve been unable to file their jobless claims, @jolingkent reports.

Growing number of Americans say: We're not paying the rent

 

CBS News Moneywatch - Thousands of people around the U.S. are calling for politicians to cancel rent and mortgages, with temporary legal restrictions on evictions set to expire in many states in a matter of weeks.

"Can't pay in May? Don't pay May," was the message sent out by an Oakland, California, tenants' group on 50,000 postcards. In New York state, 15,000 residents in apartments and other housing have pledged to not pay their rent on May 1, according to organizers of the protest. In Los Angeles, strikers are rallying near City Hall to demand that local officials suspend rent, mortgage and utility payments. 

"I've been practicing law for over 40 years and I've never seen something like this," said Andrew Scherer, a housing lawyer and the former head of Legal Services NYC, a non-profit group that offers legal aid to low-income people. "This is a very unusual occurrence — having a fairly large group of people saying, 'Something's got to give here.'" 

Housing Roundup: We host an on-air Tenants Rights Clinic; Plus: Finding housing after being released from jail, how LA is grappling with 60,000 homeless, and the International Rent Strike on May 1

KPFA - KPFA News: Now a look at organizing. Housing rights advocates are trying to build momentum behind a demand they call “cancel rent”–a call to go further than the limited eviction pause ordered by Governor Gavin Newsom under the state of emergency. KPFA’s Scott Baba reports. 

Tenants in the US are planning the largest rent strike in decades as the coronavirus cuts off more than 30 million people from their incomes

 

Business Insider - "Before the COVID-19 virus, 70% of our income went toward rent," said Vanessa Bulnes, 61, her voice crackling over a Zoom call with housing organizers and media on Thursday. 

Like tens of millions of tenants around the country, Bulnes and her 71-year-old husband, who live in Oakland, California, are out of work.

Even before the crisis, housing was not affordable, she said. Her husband suffered a stroke just before the 2009 financial crisis, and she's been the sole breadwinner ever since.

"We've always been on the edge of homelessness," Bulnes, an organizer with the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, said.

On Friday, May 1, Bulnes will join the legion of tenants unable to pay rent. It's not clear exactly how many renters will go on strike, but organized efforts in Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, Colorado, California, Washington state, and elsewhere point to the largest rent strike in decades.

Coronavirus Catalyzes Tenant Organizing Across California

 

KQED - It started with a message Jason Krueger taped to the laundry room wall: “Tenant mutual aid and support!”

It was late March, and Krueger, who uses they/them pronouns, was looking for ways neighbors in their eight-unit Alameda apartment building could help each other during the pandemic. California’s shelter-in-place order had been in effect for a little over a week, but Krueger was already thinking of the recession that was sure to follow.

Millions would soon be out of work, so Krueger thought the next step would be to organize a rent strike — withholding rent as a form of protest.

“Here, of all the places, it seemed like rent strikes would be a life-preserving measure,” Krueger said. “I just don’t see how else you would get property owners to respond without that large level of collective action and solidarity.”

So, to start, Krueger decided to try to form a tenants' council, an organization representing residents in a single building, or who share the same landlord, to bargain collectively.

Krueger's not alone. Tenants' rights organizers say they are seeing more tenants, like Krueger, turn to collective action. And on Friday, hundreds of protests are planned across the country to decry high rents, mounting debt due to the pandemic and growing income inequality.

CALIFORNIA TENANTS WILL GO ON A RENT STRIKE IF THE STATE FALLS SHORT OF CANCELLING RENT

Laid-off workers say they face insurmountable debt and homelessness if they have to pay back months of rent after the pandemic.

The Appeal - Tenants across California are poised to launch a rent and mortgage strike on May 1 if state leaders fail to provide immediate rent relief to residents who have lost their income due to COVID-19.

California Governor Gavin Newsom handed down an executive order one month ago banning the enforcement of evictions until May 31, after stay-at-home orders shut down businesses and unemployment claims surged. But renters, activists, and legal advocates were quick to point out that the measure doesn’t provide rent relief—residents will still owe back rent after stay-at-home orders are lifted. Over the past month, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment has been organizing a movement of both tenants and landlords who are seeking lasting rent relief from the state government.

Exigen alto al pago de la renta en California durante la pandemia del coronavirus

 

LA Times - Una coalición de una docena de organizaciones y activistas comunitarios se unen para exigirle al gobierno de Sacramento, el gobierno del condado de Los Ángeles y la ciudad, el alto al pago de alquileres, hipotecas y encarcelamiento durante la crisis del coronavirus.

Los activistas empezaron sus acciones este lunes con una caravana de automóviles que visitó las instituciones locales, estatales y federales, incluyendo el Servicio de Inmigración y Control de Aduanas, el Ayuntamiento de Sacramento y la Junta de Supervisores, así como el Edificio del Capitolio del Estado de California.

Los activistas sostienen que a medida que la crisis de COVID-19 continúa interrumpiendo la vida diaria, dejando a más de 26 millones de personas sin trabajo mientras las rentas y otras deudas continúan aumentando, la mayoría de los recursos movilizados por los líderes del gobierno se han canalizado a corporaciones multinacionales. Sin embargo, muy poca ayuda ha llegado a las manos de los afectados.

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