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Coronavirus Poses Threat To LA County Renters Already Living On The Edge

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For most people living in L.A., the biggest threat of the coronavirus is not falling critically ill. It’s the financial hit to those already struggling under Southern California’s high cost of living.

Housing costs were already a burden on local residents, even when the overall economy was in relatively good shape. More than half of households in Los Angeles are putting more than 30% of their income toward their rent or mortgage alone. Experts say that’s unaffordable.

L.A. County has the highest poverty rate in the state — and many don’t have enough savings to get through a rough patch. According to Census data, about a third of Californians would not be able to cover basic expenses for three months if they lost their income.

That’s why some local officials are calling for a temporary freeze on evictions. Late yesterday, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti issues a moratorium on evictions of residential tenants "if the tenant is able to show an inability to pay rent due to circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic."

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He said renters will have up to six months to repay back rent after the order expires. It is currently set to expire on March 31 but Garcetti said it could be extended prior to that date.

Garcetti also said he was asking he city attorney to explore if there was a way to offer relief to commercial tenants as well.

in addition, SoCalGas has said for now, they won’t disconnect utilities for households struggling to pay their bills.