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This past Wednesday, four deeply engaged housing rights activists connected on a webinar produced by volunteers with the ACLU of Southern California’s Economic Justice Committee about the housing crisis facing Los Angeles and cities across the country.

On hand were Francisco Duenas, Executive Director of Housing Now!; Shanti Singh, Tenants Together Legislative Director; and Gary Rhoades, Santa Monica Deputy City Attorney, with Michelle White of the ACLU SoCal Pasadena/Foothills Chapter moderating.

Listen to their discussion, then follow up with their recommended action items and readings.

Francisco Duenas, Executive Director of Housing Now!

Gary Rhoades, Santa Monica Deputy City Attorney

Shanti Singh, Tenants Together Legislative Director

John Erickson, Council Member City of West Hollywood & President of the ACLU of So Cal Union Board, urged listeners and readers to support the work of the ACLU SoCal.

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Webinar Presented by ACLU SoCal Economic Justice Committee

Wednesday, 2 June 2021, 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Zoom Registration: https://bit.ly/3ujmj5K

According to the Eviction Defense Network, approximately 500,000 Los Angeles County Tenants are currently behind in their rent. Unless our representatives are convinced to change the current law before June 31, 2021, these tenants will be evicted. Learn how you can save your neighbors’ housing.

Francisco Dueñas, Executive Director for Housing Now!
Shanti Singh, Tenants Together Legislative Director
Gary Rhoades, Santa Monica Deputy City Attorney
Michelle White, Moderator, ACLU SoCal Pasadena/Foothills Chapter

For the second time in months, California tenants face an eviction tsunami brought on by their loss of income during the pandemic. The Eviction Defense Network estimates that 500,000 tenantLos Angeles County households are behind in their rent and will soon be subject to eviction. In response, the California and federal governments have enacted complicated sets of protections designed to assist lower income tenants, including a moratorium on evictions based on Covid-related unpaid rents until June 31, 2021. 

Tenants have scrambled to respond to the impending possibility of eviction during this period. Many tenants are paying the minimum required by law—at least 25% of the rents they owe between April 1, 2020 and June 31, 2021. Others are tapping into savings and credit cards to stay housed; some are taking out costly payday loans. In many communities, the impacts fall disproportionately on households of color, as a much larger percentage of African Americans and Latinos are renters.

While tenants who pay at least 25% of their rent may not evicted during this period, their unpaid rents are not forgiven. Tenants just have a longer time to pay their debt and avoid eviction. However, landlords may sue tenants in small claims courts to convert overdue rent debts into judgments.

Conversely, many landlords who have been impacted by their tenants’ inability to pay have the option of extending their mortgages. In addition, landlords may accept 80% of the rent amount due from tenants, if they are willing to forego the other 20%. There is presently no option available of having the government pay 80% of tenants’ rents and the renters pay the other 20%—an alternative that would be manageable to many. 

Unless the Federal and State governments adopt permanent fixes to the present situation, renters will become even more unstable. The June 2, 2021 forum is designed to address those fixes so citizen advocates may make their voices heard in Sacramento and at City Hall.

Please join us in the effort to ensure that low-income renters, especially households of color, are not displaced from their communities.

Cosponsors: LA Progressive, ACLU SoCal Pasadena/Foothills Chapter, Occidental College Critical Theory & Social Justice Department….

Questions: Dick Price dick_and_sharon@laprogressive.com

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