National City residents called for rent control laws and demanded more affordable housing Thursday.
Community groups, tenants and other allies launched a campaign for local rent control and just cause eviction protections, according to the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.
The group met at the 130 block of East 8th Street at noon to call for change in their city.
"Most of these folks aren't struggling with mom and pop landlords," said Paola Martinez-Montez, a resident. "They're struggling with corporate landlords, who don't live in our cities, who don't live in our state."
"All we want is to be able to stay and live in our community," Martinez-Montez added.
The conference was part of a larger "Day of Action" declared by a new, broad-based coalition, called Housing Now.
For some renters, it's becoming increasingly difficult to afford a place to live, said Sotelo-Solis. Tenants must earn more than three times the minimum wage to afford the median asking rent of $1,940 in San Diego, according to the group.
One renter, Sochil Netty, has lived in the same apartment for the last decade. Last year, her rent went up $195, despite numerous maintenance issues including a roach infestation.
The group is pushing for the repeal of statewide restrictions on rent control stemming from the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act.
National City council member Alejandra Sotelo-Solis pledged to push for rent control laws in two or more cities by the end of 2018.
One San Diego resident, Barbara Pinto, 71, relies on a fixed income after retiring from the San Diego Unified School District, said community officials. If her rent goes up again, she will be left homeless.
Dozens of cities across the state are participating in this day of action, according to the group.