Patricia Mendoza is a single mother of two children in the San Diego area who is unemployed due to the coronavirus. She worked for a company that provides non-urgent medical transportation. She liked and did her job well. She has tried to find a new job but because she suffers from asthma, she is afraid to take a job that puts her at a higher risk of contagion. If she got sick, who would take care of her children.
Before the pandemic, Patricia earned $ 2,000 a month, but 75% went to rent. She has been unable to pay her rent for several months. Although she knows she cannot be evicted at this time, the anxiety of the future overwhelms her and worsens her asthma. But she has not remained silent, nor still. She has joined community groups like ACCE (Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment) that support the community to organize.
Now Patricia knows that she is not alone in this fight; there are many families who are going through the same thing, who do not qualify for unemployment insurance benefits, or who did not receive the federal economic stimulus check. While large corporations receive billions in bailout money, Patricia asks, where is the help for the rest of us? Even for small landlords, who are also affected when their tenants are unable to pay.
Some assembly members have heard her pleas and responded. Bill AB 1436 protects tenant families, like Patricia’s, from an eviction caused by the economic impact of the coronavirus. It will also give them several months to get up to date on past due rent. But it will not be easy to pass a law like this. Another bill (AB 2501) that tried to help homeowners or apartment owners in the same situations has just failed.
Without some form of eviction protection, it is estimated that in Los Angeles County alone there are 365,000 families like Patricia’s, without an employed adult or with insufficient income to pay the rent. If all those families were evicted, we could witness a resulting tsunami of new homelessness with approximately 120,000 families ending up on the streets, including 184,000 children.
We can prevent both the suffering of these affected families and the impact that subsequent homelessness would have on our communities. These evictions also represent an extra burden and expense for our hospitals, schools, parks, churches, etc., etc. and all the staff at these places. In the midst of a pandemic, we should do everything possible to avoid these consequences.
Help Patricia Mendoza fight for her family and the thousands of families in California – maybe yours – in the same situation. Visit acceaction.org/homesnottents.