Despite protections, landlords seek to evict tenants in Black and Latino areas of South L.A.

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While Claudia Mendez, 42, was finding little work as a house cleaner because of coronavirus restrictions, and then she got COVID-19 herself. Her landlord locked her out, removed her belongings and even took out the toilet. A tenants rights group helped get her back into the apartment for now. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

While Claudia Mendez, 42, was finding little work as a house cleaner because of coronavirus restrictions, and then she got COVID-19 herself. Her landlord locked her out, removed her belongings and even took out the toilet. A tenants rights group helped get her back into the apartment for now. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Despite new anti-eviction rules passed in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, some Los Angeles landlords are still trying to oust tenants by locking them out of their homes, turning off their utilities and deploying other illegal methods, a Times analysis of data from the Los Angeles Police Department has found.

In the initial 10 weeks after L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti ordered a temporary moratorium on evictions in mid-March, police responded to more than 290 instances of potential illegal lockouts and utility shutoffs across the city, according to the data.

The Times analysis shows that the largest share of those police calls was in predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods in South L.A. such as Vermont Square, Florence and Watts— the same communities that have faced the greatest health and economic problems from the coronavirus.

South L.A. neighborhoods have some of the county’s highest rates of coronavirus infections. Residents there also faced disproportionately high rent burdens even before the pandemic and often work in food service and other sectors with significant wage and job losses due to COVID-19, according to a recent study by UCLA’s Center For Neighborhood Knowledge. And because of the large population of undocumented immigrants, many cannot receive unemployment benefits or other government assistance.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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