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Back to online learning for UCSD students (temporarily)

 December 22, 2021 at 3:35 PM PST

Speaker 1: (00:01)

It's back to remote learning for UC San Diego that

Speaker 2: (00:04)

Will give the university time. They hope for the big surge in Omni. That's coming to kind of pass through the county.

Speaker 1: (00:11)

I'm Andrew Bowen with Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS midday edition. The FDA has cleared the first pill to treat COVID 19. It

Speaker 3: (00:29)

Will be a very big advance in our tool chest to deal with any version of the virus.

Speaker 1: (00:36)

A K PS investigation finds many people were left out of the X eviction protections and San Diego's L G B T theater gets a much needed remodel that's ahead on KPBS midday edition Marks the start of winter break for the university of California, San Diego, but students won't be returning to classrooms in 2022, at least not right away. The university announced yesterday that due to the rapidly spreading Omicron variant, it'll be back to remote learning at least until mid-January joining me to tell, tell us more. Is Gary Robbins reporter for the San Diego union Tribune, Gary. Welcome. Hi, what exactly did you see SD announced yesterday?

Speaker 2: (01:32)

It announced that it is going to teach virtually everything online for two weeks, at least two weeks during the month of, uh, January that will give the university time. They hope for the surge in Omnichron that's coming to kind of pass through the county scientists, uh, have been doing modeling that suggests that right after new Years's is gonna be a big surge. Um, they know this in part because UC San Diego on campus and in other parts of the county does wastewater testing, uh, looking for the COVID virus. And they do that because people, the virus in their stool, and you could pick up on the virus before people actually start to experience symptoms. So it's kind of like an early warning system and they didn't like what they were seeing. They thought it was gonna happen around the other parts of the state too. So the university shared that information where the other UC campuses, and by the end of yesterday, seven of the nine undergraduate campuses in the UC system had decided to go online temporarily in part of

Speaker 1: (02:33)

January. And what does this mean for students who are relying on, on campus housing, will dorms be closed or any other campus, uh, buildings, or is it only classrooms

Speaker 2: (02:42)

It's primarily classrooms? Uh, the university has a, a tremendous amount of housing. You know, they can house almost 18,000 people at the moment. There are still about 4,000 students on campus. Most of them are foreign students or students from other parts of the United States or people who simply can't get home. All of those people will be allowed to stay in the dorms during this period of time. And in January while the, um, online component is underway, students will be allowed to come back to their dorms as well. Some people, you know, simply don't have places to stay or they wanna be back on campus. Since the pandemic broke out. The, the university has had one of the lower infection rates anywhere in the country when it comes to academia, primarily because they test so thoroughly. So they're hoping that these, these extra steps that they're taking now will help them get through the

Speaker 1: (03:29)

Surge. You said U C S D was the first to make this decision of returning to remote learning, and then it spread to most, but not all other undergraduate youth CS. How about the other universities? Is the CSU going to consider remote learning or other community colleges or private universities?

Speaker 2: (03:47)

Well, they might, uh, at this point, CSU was still, uh, monitoring the situation. But earlier today, the CSU system set out a, um, documents saying that they were gonna require all students and faculty who eligible to get the, um, booster by February 28th at the latest. And then I, I gotta know from San Diego state university saying that they're actually expecting to, uh, require students to do that by mid-January. I can't remember the precise date, but they're doing it at an earlier date. They have the right to do that. Individual campuses can do it sooner. So everybody's push real hard to get the booster. You know, we're about to go to a situation in America where you're not really considered to be fully vaccinated, unless you also have the booster. So these university systems are jumping out, uh, ahead, uh, to be giving everybody the safest possible consequence.

Speaker 1: (04:37)

So Gary CSU is going to require a boot boosters, but they're not yet returning to distance learning. UC San Diego is returning to distance learning, but they are not requiring boosters yet is do I have that right?

Speaker 2: (04:52)

Uh, not quite. Uh, so, uh, so the UC came out real hard yesterday saying everybody's gotta get the booster. And then the campuses and the UC began saying, we're gonna do that. And we're also, uh, many of us are gonna go to online education for a few weeks, perhaps three weeks in, uh, January.

Speaker 1: (05:09)

How are students reacting to this news of going back to class on zoom? I imagine they're probably not too happy about it. Yeah.

Speaker 2: (05:16)

You know, I talked to two, uh, students at UC San Diego yesterday. They accepted it for what it was, uh, because they realize that this is a very serious situation, but they really don't like it at all for a variety of reasons. Um, you know, I've talked to a lot of students and faculty about this and they believe that working online is a very alienating experience. It's very lonely. It gets to the point where a lot of students study even put their, their face on the screen because they feel so out and distant from what's happening. They want to be on campus. They want the college experience. And so there's a lot of sadness here. And a lot of anxiety, people are worrying, oh my God, is this the start of this all over again? At this point, Andrew, it doesn't appear to be that this is gonna be a super long term thing. We're not in the same place we were a year ago. You know, we do have vaccines. So there are more options, but yeah, people are not pleased that they're going to be couch surfing at their parents' house.

Speaker 1: (06:12)

Again has U C S D said anything at as to what would actually lead them to bring in-person instruction back. Do they have a clear data metric that will help them determine that it's safe enough to go back to in-person learning

Speaker 2: (06:28)

In talking to the infectious disease experts on the campus over the past 48 hours? I don't get to sense from them that they think that's going to be. They think that going online for a couple of weeks in January will be adequate time to do it. But you know, these viruses behave in ways that we cannot, uh, fully anticipate. So we have to, you know, we have to say that up front, we don't know exactly how Aron is going to behave. It looks to be more transmissible. Uh, scientists are hoping that it is, uh, doesn't cause as many hospitalizations and deaths, but we just don't know yet. We need to see how the, um, vaccines and the boosters work

Speaker 1: (07:06)

Against all the crime. I've been speaking with Gary Robbins who covers science and technology for the San Diego union Tribune. Gary, thanks for joining us. Thank

Speaker 2: (07:15)

You

Speaker 4: (07:22)

Hope for a normal holiday season has trickled away with each day's headlines about the Omicron variant new case numbers are climbing dramatically as this highly contagious variant circulates among a population with waning immunity. And as always with COVID researchers are struggling to figure out exactly what kind of danger Ohn poses and how to fight it. Joining me for a weekly COVID update is Dr. Eric Topel director of the scripts research translational Institute in LA Jolla and Dr. Topel welcome.

Speaker 3: (07:55)

Thanks, Maureen. Always good to be with

Speaker 4: (07:57)

You now, the breaking news today is that the FDA has authorized the first antiviral pill against COVID. Tell us about the pill PAX livid.

Speaker 3: (08:09)

Yes, this is actually Maureen. The biggest thing to happen, uh, beyond vaccines for the pandemic. I say that for a number of reasons, firstly, up until now, we've relied on our immune system to help fight the virus vaccines and then monoclonal antibodies. But with AMRO, we learned that there's a problem with vaccines and monoclonal antibodies because it can escape our immune system to a significant extent. The great part about pack of it as a pill, when taken early, even up to five days, it will work in immuno people, even it works against Amer and it has an 89% reduction in hospitalizations or death, which is really striking. And it was as safe or even slightly safer than placebo in two randomized trials. One other big bonus. It lowers the viral load in our upper airway by at least tenfold. So it will reduce transmission. And that's really important when you have a hyper contagious virus that's out there right now with .

Speaker 4: (09:08)

This is a Pfizer pill. This is pack Livi. Again, do you have to take just one pill? No,

Speaker 3: (09:14)

It actually is two pills. It's Paxil with ritonavir, which is used to increase the blood levels of Paxil. It's two tablets of Paxil. One VIR twice a day for five days comes in a blister pack. It's gonna be distributed throughout the United States in the next couple of days, but there's the problem. There's only 200 hundred thousand blister packs available and that's not nearly enough, which is why I called for president Biden to activate the defense production act or some other means of getting production, not to rely on just one company. This is a small molecule it's easy to make and we should be getting a mass produced so that it can be used throughout the world.

Speaker 4: (09:56)

Will people be prescribed the pill when they test positive, uh, considering that there are enough pills in circulation,

Speaker 3: (10:04)

Assuming that there's enough here in San Diego, they have to have our doctor's prescription to get the, the, the pill pack. And yes, that's what we envision happening as early as, um, the beginning of next week. That's right

Speaker 4: (10:16)

The beginning of next week, but, but how will the government ramp up production on the new pill, the

Speaker 3: (10:22)

Production right now, 6.1 company. And that's not enough. We need other companies to make this at scale quickly. And we've been talking, you know, for a whole year about global vaccine equity. Now we're gonna be talking about global pill equity. So that's our problem right now. It's gonna be in short supply and, uh, the access to it is gonna be challenging.

Speaker 4: (10:43)

I also wanna take you back on what we just heard in the previous report, UC San Diego's decision to go back to online classes next month. Is that a good idea?

Speaker 3: (10:52)

It's the only logical thing. Once we saw what happened in where 97% of the students were vaccinated. And then with a matter of days, uh, after coming back from Thanksgiving break, there were over 500 students that were infected with Amron and then the whole town in Thompkins county Ithaca also took a big hit. So it's a safe thing to do right now. I think I applaud U C S D from making that move. The university environment is tough, but it doesn't have to be, uh, protracted, unfortunately it's coinciding with the holiday break anyway. So I don't think this is a long term, uh, situation, but in light of what we've seen at Cornell and other universities, it's a wise move

Speaker 4: (11:38)

And all CSU schools, including San Diego state, they, they're not saying they're gonna go back online, but they'll now require everyone on campus to have a booster shot. Is that enough of a precaution? Well,

Speaker 3: (11:50)

We wanna really get the precautions up there. It would be the booster. Yes, third shot and rapid tests. Um, that, that combination, uh, along with indoor masking, you know, gets close to a full protection, but, you know, unfortunately we don't use all the things with air filtration and CO2 monitoring, uh, keeping, uh, ventilation windows open. We don't do all the things that we can do to stave off the virus.

Speaker 4: (12:18)

Now, of course, yesterday, uh, president Biden announced he's making 500 million free COVID tests available to Americans and that's supposed to start next month. How is that gonna help against this surge? Well,

Speaker 3: (12:31)

It's about a year overdue Maureen, but it's good. Uh, the only problem is 500 million in a country or 330 million people. Won't get us very far in Colorado. They're distributing by mail, uh, several tests to each resident, uh, uh, on a frequent basis. That's what we should be doing in California. The, uh, the new plan, sometime in January, it isn't specified how we're gonna get access to those tests is obviously gonna be very limited because 500 million in such a big country is not going to get us very far, but we should get many billions of rapid tests, widely distributed, cuz they will help us manage the pandemic they've been validated, uh, extens they're used and relied upon in many other countries around the world. And we're way behind on

Speaker 4: (13:19)

That. So it sounds like the pill is as far as you're concerned, a complete game changer when it comes to COVID. Yeah,

Speaker 3: (13:26)

I, you know, a lot of people use that term or game changer, but I just see the pandemic. It isn't a game, you know, it's like, this is serious stuff, but yes, this is is transformative. As I said, it's the biggest thing since vaccines to help us in the pandemic, it will be a very big advance in our tool chest to deal with any version of the virus.

Speaker 4: (13:47)

Okay. So I, I wanna close this though by acknowledging the fact that no matter what people are going to travel this holiday to see family and friends, mm-hmm, , we've already heard that, uh, the airports are expecting, um, a lot of crowding. Everything is expecting crowds this holiday. So what's your advice?

Speaker 3: (14:07)

Well, I totally respect the, um, the desire, uh, for people in need to travel, uh, over the holidays. Uh, there are many things, things that you can do, um, certainly using a better, uh, high quality mass, like K N 90 fives, uh, would be a, a, an important, uh, part of that. Uh, you know, I would like, and I have called for, uh, our administration to make, uh, flights only by passengers with triple of vaccination or two shots in with less than, uh, four months from their second shot. We haven't done that. That would help because you're sitting on a plane for hours. Uh, and it's not good when you can have anybody join, uh, board, the plane who is not vaccinated or not, uh, boosted that would help. We don't have that enacted. It is the case by the way, Maureen and Canada, and many other countries. And I just don't understand why that hasn't happened here. That would make, uh, travel more safe for everyone.

Speaker 4: (15:07)

Okay. I have been speaking with Dr. Eric Topel director of the scripts research translational Institute in LA Jolla and our frequent guest on this topic. Dr. Topel have a wonderful holiday.

Speaker 3: (15:20)

You too, Maureen, you and all the crew at KPBS.

Speaker 1: (15:34)

This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Andrew Bowen with Maureen Kavanaugh. Jade Henman has the day off the K PBS investigates podcast took a closer look at evictions and the efforts to keep people housed here in San Diego county, since the start of the pandemic and a two parts, the race and equity reporter, kina Kim looked at what worked, who fell through the cracks. And what's next for the region's renters and landlords as housing becomes increasingly scarce, more expensive and protections, evaporate.

Speaker 5: (16:10)

Yeah,

Speaker 6: (16:11)

Chip Home. What do we mean when we say we're home, It can be the place you grew up, where you raised your family, the place your friends gather a place you only sleep at, or even the dog that never leaves your side. Get a walk home can have as many meanings as there are ways of saying it. But on March 19th, 2020 home quickly came to mean one thing for Californians, lucky enough to be housed, shelter and safety. From 19,

Speaker 7: (16:54)

We direct a statewide order for people to stay at home

Speaker 6: (17:05)

In the weeks and months that followed the state and federal government enacted a series of laws and programs to keep people housed as the ground to a standstill and unemployment in California, sword, eviction protections, and then rental assistance programs sought to help renters and landlords.

Speaker 5: (17:26)

If you don't have a home, where are you gonna rest?

Speaker 6: (17:29)

Aun? And his wife Cina have lived in their two bedroom Vista apartment for the years together with their six children who range an age from 12 years old to an infant. That's just a few months old. And Christina's mother. They have made the small apartment, their home before the pandemic, Ramon worked 30 to 40 hours a week as a day laborer. And he made it work. It could and did get tight by the time the end of the month came around, paying over $1,700 rent on top of electricity, internet and feeding grow. And kids wasn't easy, but he paid his bills when the pandemic hit and shelter in place was enforced in California though. The work quickly dried up and Ramon was scared to venture out.

Speaker 8: (18:33)

Even

Speaker 9: (18:33)

I was afraid to go out. I saw on TV that people were dying and how things were going. And well, even I was afraid

Speaker 6: (18:48)

As the months passed out work, it started to get harder to pay rent. Finally, in June, 2021 Ram got rental assistance from the county to pay all his back rent when things began to open up again, but Ram began to pick up work, but then Athena who was pregnant with their baby began to feel sick. Her blood pressure spiked. And she was put on bedrest these days in order to help Dina with the newborn and their other five children, but on one's home during the week, there's no money for childcare and she can't do it alone.

Speaker 10: (19:28)

Whatever the problem I know my husband is with me and that he will help me get ahead. He is the one that has helped me. He's the one that's taken care

Speaker 6: (19:41)

Of me Ram goes out on the weekends to pick up jobs, but all the money he makes goes to food and other bills. He now owes rent for July through October. It's never been this tight

Speaker 8: (19:54)

Before. We've

Speaker 9: (20:02)

Struggled to pay rent before, but not like this, where I stick my hand in my pocket and there's not even a single coin.

Speaker 6: (20:09)

And he's worried, it's the kind of worry that sits heavy on his shoulders. What happens if he doesn't get rental assistance or if the funds dry up, Ramon looks thinner and more tired than when we talked just a few months ago, Statewide eviction ban ended in late September and now he and his family are more vulnerable than ever. It's something. His landlord was quick to remind him

Speaker 9: (20:50)

The manager and the supervisor came to remind us that practically, we don't have protection. You know, they wanted to see what we

Speaker 8: (20:58)

Are going to do.

Speaker 9: (21:06)

We are already knew, but they came to remind us in case we didn't,

Speaker 6: (21:10)

As we sit on the couch mere hours after his landlord's visit, Ramona is trying to think through what comes next.

Speaker 8: (21:27)

I

Speaker 9: (21:27)

Don't have a plan B, to be honest, maybe I can reach an agreement with the landlords and start

Speaker 8: (21:32)

Paying.

Speaker 9: (21:41)

But for now, we're just hoping we can get help. Again.

Speaker 6: (21:47)

He's already applied for more rental assistance and is keeping track of the application for now. He's got a place to stay, but like so many other tenants across San Diego county, the worries continue At the height of the tenant protections were sometimes confusing patchwork of local state and federal policies, all working in conjunction, but they all shared the same goal stating off an avalanche of evictions, the

Speaker 11: (22:22)

White house, and the CDC announced a major

Speaker 12: (22:25)

Eviction moratorium, president Trump signing an executive or order giving the CDC broad authority to ban

Speaker 13: (22:31)

Nationwide evictions. The centers for disease control and prevention just issued a new federal Mo on eviction

Speaker 14: (22:37)

State and local governments have distributed just 11% of the 46 billion.

Speaker 15: (22:43)

The money is getting out much too slowly, and it may not reach many of these families in time.

Speaker 6: (22:53)

There was a lot happening and it was hard to keep track of it all. I remember speaking to Ann or she a tenant in Los Angeles in September, 2020. She told me keeping track of everything was overwhelming. You know, because

Speaker 16: (23:07)

There are all these different dates floating around and things are changed. Like it can become a full time job to kind of sort through what the law is today.

Speaker 6: (23:18)

So let's do a quick breakdown. The federal government had a series of eviction protections that lasted until August, 2021. Meanwhile, the state of California and San Diego county also enacted a series of protections, including an eviction ban that was extended twice. Add to that rental assistance programs, which provide money to landlords and tenants to keep people housed. It was a lot to keep track of now nearly two years after the California shelter in place, order was first issued. We're trying to make sense of where we are now and what actually worked. There were so many moving parts and different institutions overseeing the various programs. It wasn't always an easy or clear road and some tenants still found themselves, locked out, April Gutman, a veteran and father from Chula Vista is sifting through a box, filled with stacks of paper over the past year. He's documented and kept everything that's happened. His family, since the unexpected happened

Speaker 17: (24:27)

On the 23rd of September, they filed for an unlawful detainer and he had given gone, the owner had gone on and on how he really appreciated veterans, what we did for this country. And, and then he did that

Speaker 6: (24:40)

An unlawful detainer. In other words, he was evicted in the midst of the pandemic. Something that totally caught him and his family off guard. The lease on their Chula Vista apartment had expired just a few weeks earlier, but Gabriel had been working with the landlord to extend it and was waiting on his unemployment to kick in, in order to pay his rent. He tried to fight the eviction in court spending. He didn't have to hire a lawyer in the end though. It didn't matter. Despite all the protections Gabriel's lease was up. They lost the battle. And on December 15th, 10 days before Christmas Gabriel, his wife and their three children were homeless.

Speaker 17: (25:26)

And so we were actually out without a place for a month. And that was really scary. And a lot of anxiety, uh, attached to that. And even my youngest daughter, my three year old would always ask when we were gonna home, she's like, I go home and she would cry. And even now, um, she'll go from her room at night and cry and dos and kind of check, see whether we're there, we're in the same place. And so we don't know what the longterm effects were gonna be on. Uh, all three of my kids,

Speaker 6: (26:04)

Gabriel, never thought he'd find himself looking for an new place during a pandemic with no job. His once easy smile and gregarious laugh. Now have an edge of weariness. He can't shake.

Speaker 17: (26:18)

I feel bad for my kids. I felt that I had let my kids down as a man being able to support 'em and keep 'em keep a roof on, uh, over their head. As a veteran, I also was very upset because at given a, a total of nine years to this country,

Speaker 6: (26:34)

He was able to find a new place. But his stepdaughter who's in a wheelchair is staying with her grandmother because the apartment they're living in now has stairs. Gabriel says that as a veteran, he was used to taking care of himself. He never applied for rental assistance, even though he would've qualified.

Speaker 17: (26:54)

I always felt that I would rebound. And I would, I always felt like, you know what? Let people that really need it, use it because when, you know, when you think you need or you're in a bad situation, there's always someone else that needs it more than you do. And so we just thought it was the right thing to do. And we said, no, I think we can, we can make it through this without getting assistant, let people, other people have access to it.

Speaker 6: (27:21)

And he wasn't the only one to apply for rental assistance. When it first became available, many people didn't know the funds existed, or if they did, they were wary of them. Money with no strings attached seemed like too good of a deal. The state county and city had to devise whole systems to distribute the money. While community groups worked to get the word out these days, the programs are working a lot better. And as long as assistance funds are available, tenants and landlords can use them to pay a hundred percent of back. And even future rent and landlords cannot evict tenants for non-payment of rent. If they can show they've applied for rental assistance, but for some mom and pop land Lords, these continued protections are problematic and feel uneven.

Speaker 18: (28:13)

I'm seeing my savings dwindle and my credit card debt rise. I'm feeling afraid and hopeless about the situation

Speaker 6: (28:21)

Landlords like Katie, who doesn't want us to use her last name because she's a afraid it might impact her small business. She never thought she would be both a landlord and a tenant.

Speaker 18: (28:34)

I purchased a condo and I lived there for about five years. And then I had just kind of gotten tired of the area. You know, it's, it's a very urban area, a lot of density. So, so I really had a longing for something that was a little more spacious. And so I rented out my condo found a place that I loved that was, you know, just much more peaceful.

Speaker 6: (28:55)

Katie moved out and had a good run of tenants for a while. Then in June, 2019, a new tenant moved in. She had issues with her pretty quickly. She was late on rent. Didn't get her rental insurance. And Katie's pretty sure she has a dog, even though she's not supposed to then COVID came. And while her tenants still had a job, she eventually stopped paying rent.

Speaker 18: (29:21)

She managed to pay rent all the way through the end of September of 2020. It was late a lot. She at one point made the money order out to herself instead of me, and then subsequently lost the mailbox keys. So there was, um, a lot of complexity with, with what was going on.

Speaker 6: (29:39)

Katie got some money through a city rental relief program that goes to landlords and her tenant got rental assistance to pay back rent. They both have applications into the city for more funds, but as they wait to hear back, Katie feels stuck. She can't evict her tenant, but she isn't collecting the rent.

Speaker 18: (29:58)

As of November 1st, my tenant will owe were $7,000 in back rent. She has not resumed paying rent, and I don't have any reason to think that she will in November. This is despite having reason to believe that she's employed.

Speaker 6: (30:12)

As she waits to hear, if she's been approved for more city funds, Katie still has to pay rent on her own home plus fees for the condo. She's rent

Speaker 18: (30:21)

Without information about whether rent relief applications will be kept in limbo indefinitely. I can't make a good choice for myself about whether I should be thinking about moving into the condo or selling it.

Speaker 6: (30:35)

Katie says with all of this stress, whenever she finally gets things sorted out, she will just put the condo into prop pretty management. They'll raise the rent, which Katie feels bad about, but she doesn't wanna deal with this hassle anymore. The past year and a half. Hasn't been easy for landlords like Katie or for tenants like Ramon or Gabriel. And now as we hopefully come out of the darkest part of the pandemic and society begins to open up, we're left. Wondering what did all these millions of dollars in relief achieve? We asked Mar Kirkland. She's a spokesperson for the Southern California rental housing association, which represents landlords.

Speaker 15: (31:18)

I think it's made a, a hefty impact in our region. Specifically, the San Diego region has fared way better than lots of other parts of the country, where in some cases, uh, they weren't successfully able to get any money out and they've had their programs kind of taken away from them. So San Diego is really kind of a model for emergency rental assistance. And again, you know, nothing's perfect, but we're really proud of our local era,

Speaker 6: (31:44)

A programs. The housing association recently commissioned a study on how landlords fared during the pandemic. Our study

Speaker 15: (31:51)

Showed that about 2.4 billion in lost rent for San Diego area housing providers. And this goes back to about March of 2020, or, you know, when the pandemic kind of started,

Speaker 6: (32:04)

Molly says eviction bans led to some abuses like what we heard from Katie, but she understands why they were put in place moving forward. She wants to see some of the pandemic programs continue.

Speaker 15: (32:16)

There's a need for some sort of permanent form of rental assistance out there because you know, it shouldn't necessarily take a pandemic to highlight how the loss of a job can impact you for a few months. This happens outside of pandemic times,

Speaker 6: (32:31)

Looking back, even though tenants like Gabriel slipped through the cracks and were still evicted. We now know the eviction bands and rental assistance have kept thousands of families safe in their homes. The number of unlawful detainers or evictions filed in the San Diego county superior court dropped 62% from 2019 to 2020. According to records obtained by ACE, a local tenants group, legal aid society of San Diego, which handles a lot of local eviction cases, said the demand for their services dropped when county and state protections were in place. But now that the protections are largely gone, the number of calls are on the rise again.

Speaker 2: (33:19)

And so if we are having hundreds of thousands of families who can't pay the rent and are being evicted for nonpayment of rent, they're not only gonna be suffer housing instability, it's gonna be difficult for them to rent. Again.

Speaker 6: (33:32)

Hive is the senior attorney for the housing team at the legal aid society of San Diego. He's expecting an increase in eviction filings in Des, which will affect tenants for years to come.

Speaker 2: (33:45)

One, they could have an eviction on the record. Two, they're gonna get a negative reference likely from the landlord who is evicting them. And then three, they're gonna be saddled with thousands of dollars of rental debt to their current landlord when they do eventually move. So it it's, it's gonna make it not only hard to find how housing, but it's gonna impact their credit for years.

Speaker 6: (34:06)

If the eviction cliff that so many have warned about is drawing closer. We are now standing on the edge, looking down, And that's definitely taking a toll on families like Ram on and invi the constant threat of eviction of not knowing what's going to happen. The next day. Christina says it impacted her pregnancy

Speaker 10: (34:40)

Is all the stress. I think it's what caused me to have blood pressure during my pregnancy, because in all my former pregnancies, I never had high blood pressure, meaning my son would come and say, yeah, yeah, don't cry, mommy. And I would tell my husband, I don't know what's going on with me.

Speaker 6: (35:05)

And she says, the stress is also impacting Ramon.

Speaker 10: (35:18)

I know that he has a lot of pressure and I admire him because has never come to me and said, I can't do it anymore. I just see that he locks himself in the bathroom and there he's alone.

Speaker 6: (35:43)

The past few months are catching up on Ramon. He chokes up remembering how he had to collect cans and glass in order to make enough money, to pay for gas, to take Christina to her doctor's appointment. But through the tears, his determination shines through. There's no other option, but to keep going for Christina and his kids.

Speaker 8: (36:07)

Hello.

Speaker 9: (36:22)

But like, I'm telling you I can't get down because the kids, they don't know, we gotta keep trying and get ahead.

Speaker 8: (36:29)

No,

Speaker 9: (36:41)

Well, here we are trying our hardest, more than anything, we're doing it for the kids. Like I said, they don't know what's

Speaker 8: (36:47)

Going on, but we have to

Speaker 9: (36:55)

Keep trying for them and keep fighting until the end and stay here.

Speaker 6: (37:12)

Ramon is waiting to hear back. If he will receive rental assistance for the back, right. He owes for the summer and POS future rent. That's all he and other California tenants have left in terms of protections, but he doesn't know how much longer he can wait. Some of Christina's friends just moved to Kansas and now she and Ramona thinking that they might try and move out there too, where it's cheaper, where there's a job waiting and where they can get a house. Even if it's far from home.

Speaker 1: (37:56)

That was K PS race and equity reporter, Christina Kim in, in part one of a two part series on evictions on the KPBS investigates podcast tune in for part two on tomorrow's show.

Speaker 4: (38:16)

This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Andrew Bowen, like many venues, a diversionary theater was forced to close its doors at the beginning of the pandemic, but it put the time to good use by moving ahead with a major and much needed remodel. The renovated theater reopened at the end of September. And that's when K PBS arts reporter Beth Amando had diversion. Area's executive artistic director, Matt Morrow, give us a tour of the renovated facility.

Speaker 19: (38:46)

Matt. We are sitting in what is now the Clark cabaret. So explain what this space is here.

Speaker 20: (38:51)

Yeah, so it's really wonderful. We blew out the entire F front wall of diversion area's ground floor. So when you walk up to the building, it's very clear and that it's open for everyone to come and enjoy. It's also a safety and security measure in terms of COVID 19 an air flow. So it's, it's very open and breezy. We have an indoor outdoor experience patrons to come and enjoy. And this space is, uh, diversion's way of honoring the gay bar experience, which is an important, safe space to the LGBTQ community. Historically speaking, the gay bar of decades past where spaces that the LGBTQ C would gather and commune, and then ultimately launch the LGBTQ movement for equal rights. And as of late, you know, as the LGBTQ plus community has been entering the mainstream, our gay spaces have been going away. And so this space is meant to honor the history and importance of having a space like this, specifically for the L G LGBTQ community to come together and celebrate and honor our community.

Speaker 19: (40:01)

And one of the ways that you're honoring that is on the counter space of your bar and on your wallpaper.

Speaker 20: (40:07)

Yes. A cool feature of the space is that our bar and our wallpaper in the space features images and newspaper article and newspaper headlines about the LGBTQ community, both locally and nationally. We did a wonderful outreach project with Lambda archives of San Diego, where we asked the community to send in their photos of them protesting during pride parades and engaging in bases locally. And then we mixed those in with other historical photos that we gathered from Lambda archives to create a collage that is permanently embedded inside the actual bar and walls of the

Speaker 19: (40:50)

Space. Matt, I had a chance to talk to you during the pandemic, which diversionary theater put to good use by doing this remodel. What has that process been like? And what is it like being on the verge of reopening for in person

Speaker 20: (41:04)

Performances? Oh my God, it's so exciting. You know, the pandemic was, is it's continuing to persist, right? It's been such a tough time for everyone, but this project has been a beacon for us to focus on and to work towards. So we, we couldn't produce as a theater, uh, producing live entertainment for our community. So we turned to focus on how we can make this space really unique and really special and also safe as a space. We are very proud that for 36 years we've been offering a safe space to our community. The pandemic has challenged us to reevaluate what a safe space means. And so we looked at the science and, uh, started integrating a bunch of safety measures to, to really maximize the safety and security of our actual space. We optimized our air circulation systems and integrated, and Murf their chin filtration in our HVAC. For our main stage, you can see on our cabaret tables and part of our bar up there is all made out of copper and copper, actually neutralizes viral contagion. And then we also designed easy to clean surfaces. The seats upstairs in our main stage are leatherette. So they're super easy to white clean and, uh, make sure that everyone who engages in our space feels safe and welcome. And

Speaker 19: (42:27)

When people return to an in-person performance here, they're also gonna be finding a brand new stage.

Speaker 20: (42:32)

Yes are newly coined Alfred maser and Robert granite main stage has been completely renovated. We have new theater seats, we took down a wall. So we've expanded the stage itself to make it a little bit larger. It's still an incredibly intimate stage with 102 seats. So our patrons who are used to coming and engag with our, our theater productions in an intimate way, it'll still be an intimate experience. So it'll just be a little bit larger.

Speaker 19: (43:01)

And part of the renovation for this lower level is you have a very nice new

Speaker 20: (43:05)

Little stage. Yeah. The stage down here in the cabaret is really special. It's of course, like everything diversionary intimate, and we have a parlor and down here, which is going to permanently live on our little intimate stage here two nights a week. We'll have somebody on the keys. So to honor sort of the cabaret, the piano bar cabaret, feel of our space. And yeah, we'll have musical entertainment down here on the stage, stand up, all sorts of fun things.

Speaker 19: (43:34)

And part, part of the remodel did that also involve creating an educational space here?

Speaker 20: (43:39)

yeah. So diversionary is not just a theater. We also have an arts education wing that has been flourishing over the past seven years. We have seven arts education programs that serve all of San Diego county, thousands of young people and older L G B E T Q people and our allied citizens that is really more and more every day becoming, uh, a big part of what we do here at diversionary. And to that end, we have a space dedicated for all of our work in arts education. It's the Tom Maddox and Randy Clark arts education center. And it's a space where our director of arts and teaching artists can convene to plan curriculum development and lesson plans. And it's also a space that's outfitted with teleconferencing capabilities. So we can speak with our partners locally without having to be in person as well as our national partners that we have.

Speaker 20: (44:33)

Now, one thing that the pandemic did for us was show us that we could broaden our reach via an online platform. We inaugurated a new program in the teen playwriting lab that specifically for young playwrights. And it was so popular that we had to run to over the pandemic. And that's something that we're gonna continue online for the future. And that program is in partnership with an off-Broadway theater company in New York city called Rattlestick playwrights theater. Uh, and so that space is going to help, uh, maintain all of our relationships with partner organiz across the country.

Speaker 4: (45:13)

That was diversion. Matt, Marow speaking with KPBS arts reporter, Beth ado,