San Francisco, CA — Hundreds of tenants, unhoused residents, workers & families are joining forces this May Day to demand local, state and federal representatives use their power to cancel rent, mortgages and utility payments, including all respective debts, and provide homes for all so that every resident can stay safe during and after COVID-19. Participants are also calling for a Green New Deal and guaranteed living-wage jobs, which would provide the pathway toward a just, prosperous and sustainable economy.
The car caravan is circling state and city buildings, corporate landlord apartments and other undisclosed locations. As a historic 22-million filed for unemployment in the US, and over 3.4 million in CA alone, this International Workers Day in SF will amplify the urgent call to put our lives, homes and health over profit. Another world is possible, and we demand it for our collective survival.
“I got sick, was diagnosed with COVID-19, and hospitalized. I haven’t been working for the last few weeks, and at this moment I have no income,” said SF tenant Rodrigo Lopez. “My family decided to use our last dollars left to buy food so we can heal from our illness. If I had to pay rent today, I wouldn’t have any money or be able to pay for food or utilities. My only hope is that the Governor will forgive our rent until we can recuperate from this crisis and slowly, when the pandemic ends, I can start working again.”
“There are enough vacant units and hotel rooms to safely house everyone, yet they won’t even put out hand washing stations and bathrooms for us in a pandemic,” said street medic, disabled firefighter and unhoused SF resident Shanna Couper Orona. “London Breed, your inaction is destroying people from the inside out. Find your heart and house us now!”
COVID-19 has further exposed the deep inequality and racial disparity within our economic and housing systems. Workers without job security, paid sick leave, and health insurance also usually lack housing security. Even before the pandemic, 40 million U.S. households were paying over a third of their incomes for housing, and half a million people were living on the streets.
In California the numbers are worse – renters make up almost half of the population of the state, and 55% of them are considered cost-burdened, with low-income people and people of color suffering the worst instability.
In early April, one-third of apartment renters in the private market paid no rent, and we expect these numbers to rise in May. Temporary eviction moratoriums leave many residents liable for insurmountable debt and only defer evictions.
To get ahead of an even graver housing and economic crisis, we must stand together this May Day and #BeyondRecovery to demand relief for ordinary workers and communities that builds towards an equitable housing and economic system, and a #DebtFreeFuture!