For many immigrants, the eviction crisis has already begun
Share Now on:
On the final night of its session Monday, the California Legislature enacted a ban on evicting people who can’t pay the rent through Feb. 1, 2021. Back rent owed from March through Aug. 31 of this year would be turned into consumer debt. If people don’t pay, property owners can take the tenants to civil court, but cannot evict them.
For rent owed after August and through the end of January 2021, tenants must pay at least 25% of missed payments or risk eviction.
Nationally during this COVID-19 collapse, the situation for many renters is dire. This includes many immigrant families without documentation.
On the evening of June 15, Maria, who asked that her last name be withheld, says she locked herself in her Los Angeles apartment, where she’s lived for 10 years, while three men stood outside banging on the door and yelling.
They were there to collect rent.
“I felt terrified. They came three times in the same day. They would come without masks, without gloves, and I would start shaking,” Maria said.
She said she’d already told her landlord that month she wouldn’t be able to pay because of the pandemic. She worked a food cart, and with the quarantine, her income went from $1,600 a month to $160. Her husband, a cook, was also out of work. They are both undocumented, so they don’t get any unemployment benefits.
Across the country, high unemployment and the end of eviction moratoriums has housing advocates warning about a nationwide wave of evictions. For many immigrants, especially undocumented ones, that crisis has already begun.
“In the COVID period, [undocumented immigrants] have been working in a sector that has been hit particularly hard”, said University of California, Davis economist Giovanni Peri, who specializes in immigrant issues. “In general, in the recession, the undocumented are hit harder, one because they’re younger, a little less educated than natives.”
It’s a hit that carries over from those undocumented workers to the economies they live in. In a new report, UCLA professor Raúl Hinojosa found that “in places like Los Angeles, it really creates a massive economic hole in the middle of the LA economy. We’re estimating about a billion dollars a month.”
And while evictions have been on hold in California, tenants facing financial hardship, have not had peace of mind. “We noticed that landlords are responding with increased harassment, they’re neglecting essential repairs” said attorney Faizah Malik, who is representing tenants in a lawsuit against the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles. “And the big thing we’re seeing in LA, for sure, is an increase in illegal lockouts.”
Malik said an undocumented tenant has the same rights as anyone when it comes to evictions. But they are often terrified to come forward and report abuse.
Maria says her landlord has repeatedly threatened to report her to immigration authorities. That night, when the three men came to her house, she said she despaired. “I felt I was having a heart attack. I called the ambulance,” she said.
At the hospital, she was told she was having an anxiety attack.
When she got back, she picked up the phone, called a cousin and asked for a loan — two months worth of rent.
COVID-19 Economy FAQs
Pfizer said early data show its coronavirus vaccine is effective. So what’s next?
In the last few months, Pfizer and its partner BioNTech have shared other details of the process including trial blueprints, the breakdown of the subjects and ethnicities and whether they’re taking money from the government. They’re being especially transparent in order to try to temper public skepticism about this vaccine process. The next big test, said Jennifer Miller at the Yale School of Medicine, comes when drug companies release their data, “so that other scientists who the public trust can go in, replicate findings, and communicate them to the public. And hopefully build appropriate trust in a vaccine.”
How is President-elect Joe Biden planning to address the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic turmoil it’s created?
On Nov. 9, President-Elect Joe Biden announced three co-chairs of his new COVID-19 task force. But what kind of effect might this task force have during this transition time, before Biden takes office? “The transition team can do a lot to amplify and reinforce the messages of scientists and public health experts,” said Dr. Kelly Moore, associate director for the Immunization Action Coalition. Moore said Biden’s COVID task force can also “start talking to state leaders and other experts about exactly what they need to equip them to roll out the vaccines effectively.”
What does slower retail sales growth in October mean for the economy?
It is a truism that we repeat time and again at Marketplace: As goes the U.S. consumer, so goes the U.S. economy. And recently, we’ve been seeing plenty of signs of weakness in the consumer economy. Retail sales were up three-tenths of a percent in October, but the gain was weaker than expected and much weaker than September’s. John Leer, an economist at Morning Consult, said a lack of new fiscal stimulus from Congress is dampening consumers’ appetite to spend. So is the pandemic.
As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.
Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.
Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.