Eviction moratoriums are one of the ways governments have promoted stable housing during this COVID-19 pandemic. However, even with these laws, evictions have not stopped: Over 500 Bay Area households have been evicted since March 2020.
This trend is driven, in part, by landlords who are exploiting loopholes to lock out or evict tenants. And, low-income renters of color, in places where tenant organizing is limited or non-existent, are particularly vulnerable.
The report, “Defending Our Homes: Bay Area Tenant Groups Respond to the Social Crisis of COVID-19,” released today by the Regional Tenant Organizing network (RTO) highlights the essential role grassroots organizers play in helping tenants through the COVID-19 pandemic. It also provides recommendations to philanthropy on how they can boost local efforts to not only weather the current crisis but also lay the groundwork for a just recovery.
The research underpinning this report came out of a month-long collaboration between RTO members, Urban Habitat which convenes RTO, and undergraduates from Stanford University. Together, we interviewed 30 tenant organizations from across the Bay Area to understand the challenges they face, the resources they need, and the opportunities that are becoming available.
The groups interviewed laid out a clear set of requests. They need more resources, including:
- Basic tools and technology to reach renters who are in need of help.
- Stipends and gift vouchers to remunerate their dedicated volunteer workforce.
- Funds for translation and interpretation services to ensure language access.
- Funds to provide comprehensive legal services in multiple languages.
- Mental health support for organizers who are providing crisis management.
Read the report.