San Diego religious leaders and local organizations are calling on California Gov. Gavin Newsom and state officials to extend tenant protections.
“Either I feed my children or I pay the rent,” said Ramon Toscano, a Vista resident who is afraid he is going to end up homeless.
It is the uncertainty that Toscano faces today, “worried because we don’t know what to expect.”
And he could have his days numbered inside his apartment in Vista, where he and his six children and wife live.
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“What are we going to do if they were to kick us out?” Toscano said.
In 10 days, California’s emergency rental program that helped him provide a home for his family during the pandemic will end.
“We suffered harassment from when we were two to three months behind rent and then they sent lawyers to get us to pay. We do not know what will happen,” Toscano said.
In San Diego County alone, more than 200,000 people are behind on their rent and many of them did not apply for help from the government, while others are still waiting for it.
“Although the moratorium protection is expiring, it is important to know that these evictions cannot continue if they are waiting for support from the county or the city,” added Rafael Bautista, director of the San Diego tenants’ union.
California’s COVID-19 tenant relief law helps protect tenants facing an economic challenge caused by the pandemic from eviction for non-payment as long as the tenant has proof.
“Even if the owners have an eviction process and go to court and put the notifications to pay the rent or leave this still has to be reviewed by a judge then if they are in the process of waiting for assistance,” Bautista said.
The director of the tenants’ union in San Diego advocates for the protection to remain.
“I hope that in 10 days there is an agreement and it touches their hearts and gives us more days of rental relief," said Toscano.
According to San Diego Superior Court files, so far in 2022 in San Diego alone, 985 evictions have been registered, 3,101 during 2021, while 3,365 people in 2020 were reported to have been evicted. Although, this is not the total sum number of evictions.
On Feb. 1, 2021, the San Diego City Council passed an eviction moratorium that protects tenants from eviction for non-payment of rent associated with a COVID-19 hardship.
This will take effect on April 1, 2022, when statewide eviction protections expire. The City of San Diego’s moratorium will continue until 60 days after the local state of emergency regarding COVID-19 ends.
If you’re having trouble paying rent and afraid of being left on the street, California has several programs. Visit the state’s Housing and Rental site for more information.