‘We’re being left behind’: Struggling tenants call for debt relief, extended eviction protections

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SAN DIEGO – Tenants struggling to make rent are calling on state lawmakers to extend the eviction moratorium and provide debt relief for some tenants and landlords before protections expire early next year.

Demonstrators gathered Wednesday in the Logan Heights neighborhood near the home of Assemblyman Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, demanding that he act at the legislative level.

Most of the demonstrators are struggling to pay rent with many saying they have lost jobs. If state lawmakers don’t act soon, it’s going to become a life or death situation for many struggling families, they say.

They’re calling on Hueso to champion bills that provide debt relief for qualifying tenants and landlords and extend eviction protections, most of which are set to expire Feb. 1.

Patricia Mendoza was among the group pleading with lawmakers to act.

“We’re probably going to end up living out of my little white van, and that’s your worst nightmare, you know, as a parent you have to protect your children and you have to do everything you can,” Mendoza said. 

As part of the demonstration, a few dozen community members put on a Posada, which is a Mexican holiday tradition where actors re-enact Mary and Joseph looking for room at the inn. It’s a tradition that currently resonates with many local families, including Gabriel Guzman and his family who were evicted through what he calls a “loophole” in the system.

“I have no idea, both of us are unemployed, our kids are home from school,” Guzman said about where he and his family will live next.

Hueso issued a statement, which reads in part: “During the upcoming legislative session, I will be working diligently with my constituents and colleagues in the legislature to keep roofs over families’ heads and prevent further evictions in our state.”

But there is need for relief in the community, protester Carlos Hernandez said.

“Corporations, a lot of large business owners, they’re being relieved, they’re being given assistance,” Hernandez said, “while us — the hardest afflicted communities — we’re being left behind.”

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