As eviction moratoriums expire in a growing number of states, landlords are gearing up to evict tenants whose jobs and incomes were destroyed by COVID-19.
On Tuesday, Jamaal Bowman, the likely next congressman representing NY-16 and community groups held a Zoom call where they announced a national eviction blockade to protect Black and brown tenants at risk of losing their homes because they can’t afford to pay rent.
“How the heck are people supposed to pay their rent when they don’t have income coming in,” Bowman said. “It’s inhumane, it’s racist and that’s why I’m proud to stand and fight with you.”
People on the Zoom call included progressive leaders, tenant leaders from New York, California and across the country, members of New York Communities for Change (NYCC), Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), Action Center on Race and the Economy (ACRE) and other organizations.
According to Bowman, 31 percent of his district was rent burdened before COVID-19 and now he can’t even imagine how high the numbers are.
He questioned why the government bailed out airlines and cruise companies, yet not the working class and where thr second stimulus payments were.
Bowman called on the federal and state government to cancel rent and utilities and give people $2,000 a month until the pandemic ends.
“What the hell else are people supposed to do,” Bowman exclaimed.
Peggy Perkins, a resident of Long Island, is a member of NYCC. Perkins has been struggling the past few months.
She owns a beauty store and is closed until Phase 3. Additionally, she has three kids, one of which has special needs. Making her problems worse, Perkins did not receive any financial assistance from the federal government for her business.
Perkins is not sure how she will pay rent. She lives in Section 8 housing, yet her property manager still had the audacity to send a letter saying rent is due July 1 and he would be accepting credit or debit card as payment.
“These landlords don’t care,” she said. “These judges don’t care. How can anyone who’s on Section 8 have a debit or credit card to pay for an apartment that costs $1,300.”
Perkins noted that it is not fair that the wealthy are still making money during the pandemic, while those who normally struggle are hurting even more.
She said that Governor Andrew Cuomo is supposed to look out for the people.
“He [Cuomo] is making sure that his pockets are filled up,” she said. “No one can afford rent at this time.”
Jasmine Johnson, a tenant leader in North Carolina and a member of Action North Carolina was also on the call. She was despondent and stressed that rent must be canceled.
Johnson has struggled during COVID-19. She lost her job in March and has dealt with a slumlord for two years. She recently began receiving unemployment, which should ease her financial burden a bit.
“Now that COVID-19 happened people are in our shoes,” she said. “I feel like canceling rent is very important. It’s not fair to just evict people. The government needs to get off its tail and help us.”