Residents hold rally in downtown L.A. calling for rent relief, protections amid pandemic

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A rally and concert was held in downtown Los Angeles Friday, with organizers calling for the cancellation of rent amid the coronavirus pandemic

The Westside chapter of the Los Angeles Tenants Union held the demonstration near Temple and Los Angeles streets, saying elected officials have failed to protect renters and thousands of families who are facing the threat of eviction.

The mission: “To cancel rent and to cancel mortgages for this moment in time so that people can choose to feed their families and be safe in the midst of the pandemic,” participant Jessa Calderon said.

A moratorium on evictions was widely in place early in the pandemic to stop landlords from kicking out tenants who couldn’t pay rent. But as federal, state and local moratoriums are set to expire, many at the rally say that puts their families at risk.

“A lot of people don’t have the privilege of working from home and they’re actually out of work now going on five months,” Lydia Ponce of SoCal 350 group said.

As many as 120,000 household face homelessness because of the pandemic, a UCLA report found.

“We’ve already seen that a lot of landlords already are trying to illegally evict people despite the so-called moratorium… they don’t know their rights,” said a woman who only identified as Pangea, a member of the tenants union.

In L.A. County, where it’s estimated that more than 60% of residents are renters, the temporary moratorium was extended through Sept. 30 and could continue month to month after that. Residential tenants affected by the pandemic are allowed 12 months to pay back their rent, but demonstrators say that isn’t enough.

“A lot of people will still be out of a job after the pandemic is over so there’s just no way that people will be able to make up that lost income and pay back rent the amount that they owe and cancelling rent is not a crazy concept,” Pangea said.

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