In the Bay Area—the most expensive place to live in the U.S—residents are going on a #RentStrike.
YES! Magazine - Terra Thomas, a florist in Oakland, California, doesn’t know when she’ll receive her next paycheck, a concerning predicament millions of Americans are now facing.
“It’s terrifying for sure,” she says.
Even before Bay Area officials announced a shelter-in-place order on March 16—to start the next day—Thomas was already noticing her event’s calendar thinning out. As a florist, she had weddings, graduations, and other special occasions booked for the rest of the year, but as the news of the coronavirus spread, her clients started canceling.
Because of her precarious situation, Thomas, a member of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, who had been initially striking against her corporate landlord Mosser Companies Inc. over repairs and other negligence with her neighbors before quarantining, decided to withhold paying her April rent.
“I need to allocate my money for food, health care and other necessities, not to pay rent to corporate landlords,” she says.
Thomas pays $833 a month in rent. She’s lived in her building for seven years and is under rent control. Still, even with rent control, coming up with that kind of cash without income is a prospect Thomas never saw herself having to consider.
The Bay Area continues to be one of the most expensive places to rent in the country, with the average cost of $3,446 a month for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco. Many low-income renters live paycheck-to-paycheck. Like Thomas, a growing number of tenants in the Bay Area, around California, and a beginning of a movement throughout the country are rent striking—proactively choosing to not pay rent.
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