As Eviction Filings Resume, Tenants Demand More Protections
Monday, October 5, 2020
Photo by Max Rivlin-Nadler
Landlords can begin filing evictions in San Diego housing court Monday for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Landlords weren’t the only ones at the courthouse — a group of tenants also made the trip to housing court in downtown San Diego, saying a new state law meant to protect them doesn’t go far enough.
“If they kick me out of my house, where I’ve been living for four years, where am I going to go? Am I going to live in this van with my kids, and be more vulnerable to COVID?,” said Patricia Mendoza, a tenant who’s part of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE). Mendoza has been fighting for the rights of tenants, including herself, for months now.
The compromise state bill meant to stave off evictions, Assembly Bill 3088, was passed right at the end of the legislative session last month. It gave tenants until February to pay a portion of their rent, but it doesn’t stop evictions unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This gives landlords, such as her own, the loopholes needed to move forward with evictions, Mendoza said.
“The lady wants to remodel the roof," she said. "So she thinks that it needs to be remodeled during this pandemic, so she wants to kick everybody out."
The group drove downtown Monday from Balboa Park as part of a car caravan, circling the downtown courthouse just as its doors opened.
Barbara Pinto is a tenant in southeast San Diego who out of work and with her unemployment reduced, she sees no way she’ll be able to pay the rent she still owes, even with the extra time.
“I’m a senior citizen, I’m paying over 82% of my income for rent, I took a part-time job and that was affected, our office was closed, and I wasn’t able to make the extra money,” she said.
She thinks more needs to be done at the state and federal levels to help renters meet their obligations under the new law, with an economy still in tatters.
“I don’t think it is possible," Pinto said. "I think people will still be in more of a hardship than they are now, I think the state and our state leadership need to come up with formulas that work for all people.”
A federal eviction moratorium has placed a possible hold on evictions nationwide, but like California’s own law, still allows landlords to evict tenants for reasons unrelated to non-payment due to COVID-19.
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