Los Angeles Councilmen David Ryu and Mike Bonin joined elected officials from cities across the United States Thursday in calling on state and federal governments to immediately provide relief and protections to tens of millions of renters during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Los Angeles councilmen were joined by council members from Denver, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Louisville, Hartford and Seattle in criticizing what they said was a lack of support from governors and the federal government to provide rent and mortgage relief.
Noting that more than 30 million people have filed for unemployment since mid-March, they said without the protections, the effects of the pandemic will push tenants further away from economic stability.
“Since the start of this pandemic, tens of millions of jobs have been lost, as our nation approaches an unemployment rate not seen since the Great Depression,” Ryu said. “America’s cities are facing the brunt of this firsthand, and we are doing all we can to keep people from falling into poverty and homelessness, but we need the federal government to step up.”
Ryu said there needs to be a “new deal” created for the coronavirus pandemic situation to provide relief on rent and mortgage payments.
Bonin said the nation is facing “unprecedented economic and social trauma.”
“Congress needs to pass universal rent and mortgage cancellation immediately or millions of people will be thrown into poverty, homelessness and despair,” he said. “The federal government needs to stop propping up the rich and powerful and instead lift up the people they are elected to represent.”
According to the group’s joint statement, cities are already doing what they can to protect communities, citing resolutions passed by the city councils of Oakland, Philadelphia and Seattle suspending evictions in buildings covered by certain protections, including for non-payment of rent. Those resolutions also called for moratoriums on evictions, foreclosures, utility shut-offs, and banned rent increases and late fees.
Los Angeles has been able to codify the same or similar protections through temporary laws.
“Fears are already growing about the backlog of evictions and foreclosures that will inevitably lead to a rise in homelessness once measures are no longer in place to protect tenants,” the group’s statement says.
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