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Protesters Surround Downtown LA Courthouse Demanding Rent Relief

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Dozens of people turned out for a protest in downtown Los Angeles Friday morning demanding that local and state officials extend a moratorium on evictions for struggling renters because of the ongoing economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Los Angeles rent protest
A protest outside the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles demanding rent relief amid the coronavirus. Aug. 21, 2020. (VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)

The protesters gathered outside the L.A. County Superior Court building and also staged a car caravan.

It was in response to a vote from the Judicial Council of California on Aug. 13 to lift the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures beginning Sept. 1.

The only way the moratorium can now be extended is if the California Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom reach a deal on doing so.

"Gov. Newsom and all elected officials need to understand that the eviction crisis is going to impact almost five million people," said Annie Shaw with the Chinatown Community for Equitable Development, one of the advocacy groups that helped organize the protest. "People are not going to be able to pay back the rent that they owe during the pandemic. The majority of us are already struggling before COVID, during COVID, and after COVID we're not going to be magically making new income to repay the rent. This means that people are going to be facing homelessness."

"The best way to solve this problem is to cancel rent right now," Shaw added.

On Monday, L.A. County began accepting applications for a $100 million rent relief program for low-income renters. The program is open to all residents of Los Angeles County who do not live in the city of Los Angeles. The city of L.A. has its own $103 million program.

Earlier this month, the L.A. City Council voted to unanimously support Assembly Bill 1436. The bill would extend the eviction moratorium until 15 months after a state or local state of emergency is lifted.

In early July, Newsom signed an extension through Sept. 30 for an executive order which gives local governments the authority to halt renter evictions.

On July 21, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors extended a countywide ban on evictions for residential and commercial tenants through Sept. 30 as well. The moratorium was first put into effect in March, when the pandemic took hold. It applies to all local jurisdictions unless they have enacted their own moratoriums.

In April, the L.A. City Council voted to move forward with a plan to freeze rent increases for a period of about one year for older apartments that are protected by the city's rent stabilization ordinance.

Last October, Newsom signed a law which caps annual rent increases at 5 percent for any housing that is 15 years or older.

Along with the CCED, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, LA Voice, LA Tenants Union, SEIU 721, Eviction Defense Network and the Los Angeles Center for Community Law and Action also took part in the demonstration.

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