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Advocates brace for a new wave of homelessness.

The Progressive - Patricia Mendoza lives in Imperial Beach, a four-and-a-half-square-mile city of about 29,000 people at the southwest edge of California. She is a single mother with two children, ages sixteen and nine, and until recently she was employed as a non-emergency medical transport driver earning about $2,000 a month.

She lost her job at the end of March, when California Governor Gavin Newsom imposed a stay-at-home order to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus. Mendoza had little savings—rent took up about 70 percent of her monthly income, with the rest going for food and utilities. So when she lost her job, she had to stop paying rent.

“The last two weeks in March, I only worked four days,” she said in a phone interview. “I didn’t have money to pay rent, and I had to feed my kids and pay the bills.”

With affordable housing already scarce, Oakland is poised for a post-pandemic homelessness boom

Without rent relief for California tenants, housing advocates fear the pandemic will worsen the homelessness crisis

Salon - Amid the pandemic, many cities and counties adopted eviction moratoriums as a stopgap to prevent evictions and therefore homelessness. Yet as both everyday Americans and politicians grow weary of lockdowns, many public health experts and activists fear what will happen when these ordinances lift.

The end of the eviction moratorium is particularly grim in cities like Oakland, California, where economic inequalities were already severe before the pandemic. In 2018, a United Nations report described Oakland's homelessness crisis as "cruel and inhumane."

Oakland's moratorium terminates on August 31st, and tenants will be responsible for paying back rent that they missed payments on in the intervening months. Hence, in a city where the average rent is $2,300 for a one-bedroom apartment, a tenant could be responsible for paying $10,000 or more in back rent once the moratorium lifts. For someone who has been unemployed for months, and may have already been struggling financially, paying back-rent could be an impossible feat. The moratorium prohibits most evictions related to COVID-19, but tenants could still be taken to small claims court by their landlords or face eviction if they cant pay rent after August 31. 

Amidst Mass Unrest in Defense of Black Lives, ACCE Supports New Legislation Introduced to Protect Community from Police-Enforced Evictions Due to Unpaid Rent During Pandemic

For Immediate Release: June 10th, 2020

Media Contact: Anya Svanoe, (510) 423-2452

CALIFORNIA – Today, Assemblymember Chiu introduced AB1436 the “The COVID-19 Eviction Protection and Housing Stability Act.” The bill protects California renters from police-enforced evictions due to unpaid rent during the pandemic, protects tenants from late fees or lost security deposits for unpaid rent and extends the date for repayment by 15 months. The legislation is being moved amidst a growing call for multi-pronged solutions to racial violence in California under the umbrella of a Black New Deal. Tenants on rent strike across California celebrate the bill as a first step in the #CancelRent movement in protecting Californians from the looming mass wave of evictions and escalating homelessness if the bill is not passed. To date, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) has collected 60,000 pledges to rent strike from Californians across the state calling on state legislators to cancel rent and mortgage payments. 

 

Coronavirus: New proposal offers broader tenant protections for Californians

 

Measure would ban evictions for back rent owed due to pandemic

San Jose Mercury News - Lawmakers on Wednesday introduced a measure for long-term eviction relief for renters struggling through the coronavirus pandemic, as a state judicial council delayed a decision on dropping a temporary ban on renter-landlord court hearings.

Bay Area lawmakers proposed a statewide ban on evictions for back rent owed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The measure would give stressed renters up to 15 months after the health emergency has lifted to pay back debts, while allowing landlords to pursue civil claims to recoup lost rent. The measure, AB 1436, also encourages tenants and landlords to reach private agreements to settle accounts.

Assemblymember David Chiu, D-San Francisco, said the pandemic has put millions of California renters at risk for eviction. Increasing homelessness and stacking families into tighter quarters would compound health risks, he said. Assemblymembers Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland, and Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, also endorsed the measure.

Why the Fight Against Police Brutality is Also a Fight for Affordable Housing

 

 

KQED - Walter Riley, 76, hadn’t left the house in more than two months. But it was a special day.

His grandson, Akil Riley, 19, had organized a demonstration to protest police violence against black and brown people, part of the nationwide movement following the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.

Thousands of people gathered in front of Oakland Technical High School, with crowds spilling out into the street and extending for several city blocks.

“I hadn’t seen numbers like that since the Civil Rights Movement,” said the elder Riley, an Oakland attorney and activist who had organized similar demonstrations in the South a half a century ago. “I was impressed that so many young black people came out for this. It was a moving and powerful moment for me.”

Black activists with deep Oakland organizing roots reflect on a week of protest

 

Carroll Fife, TurHa Ak, John Jones III and Refa One on how this moment compares to movements of the past, and what comes next.

Berkelyside - For seven straight days, Oaklanders have taken to the streets to demonstrate against police brutality toward Black Americans. In some ways, these events feel wholly unprecedented. In other ways, this moment is reminiscent of previous chapters in the Bay Area’s deep history of political protest and social-justice movement building.

Oaklandside contributors Jeannine Etter and Sarah Belle Lin interviewed four seasoned Black activists with deep organizing experience in Oakland. They reflected on the past week’s demonstrations, and offered advice to younger activists and anyone interested in better understanding this moment.

The Black New Deal

The Oakland Post - Across the entire county, Black Americans have been crying out for specific data on the impacts of the coronavirus on their communities due to high rates of contraction and mortality.

In Oakland, coalition of Black-led organizations was convened to address the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 and its evisceration of the Black community.

The resulting effort is The Black New Deal, a platform of short, mid and long-range goals crafted to address the immediate needs of Oakland’s Black residents.

Vocal alliance lobbies San Diego to focus budget more on low-income residents

22 local organizations want rent relief, free broadband, money for undocumented residents, small business help

San Diego Union-Tribune - A coalition of nonprofit groups and labor unions is lobbying San Diego to make major revisions to the city’s proposed budget that would help renters, low-income workers, undocumented residents and small businesses.

The Community Budget Alliance, a partnership that includes 22 local organizations, wants the city to give rent relief to people struggling during the pandemic and provide free high-speed internet to low-income households.

The alliance also wants more money devoted to enforcing worker rights and wage rules, boosting small businesses in low-income areas and translating city communications into the many languages spoken across San Diego.

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