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Housing and Homelessness
Your guide to renting in this complicated — and expensive — place.

Most COVID-19 Tenant Protections Have Ended. What Comes Next Is Unclear For Many LA Renters

Two women, one older with medium brown skin and one younger with light skin and short, dark hair, are looking over a chain-link fence from the sidewalk. The older woman is smiling. The younger is wearing a gray N-95 mask and waving. She has a canvas tote page with a red graphic printed with words in multiple language. In large print is the Spanish word "Vota."
Alicia Godínez, left, and Kimberly Ortega greet a Boyle Heights resident while going door-to-door to inform community members about the end of COVID-19 renter protections.
(Trevor Stamp
for LAist)
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For more than three years, L.A. County’s COVID-19 tenant protections helped prevent evictions. These protections expired at the end of March, but some Angelenos are still struggling to pay rent.

The end of the pandemic-era protections also means that renters who owe money to their landlords will have to pay it back. Some tenants are thousands of dollars in debt, and advocates fear that many of them could become unhoused.

Earlier this week, staff members and volunteers at InnerCity Struggle, a nonprofit in Boyle Heights, went door knocking to alert community members about the changes — and to inform them about their rights.

‘Tenant rights vary depending on where you live’

About a dozen volunteers gathered at the nonprofit’s headquarters in the late afternoon. They received tote bags brimming with pamphlets and handouts.

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Daniel Jiménez, InnerCity Struggle’s director of community organizing, walked the volunteers through the materials they would soon be distributing.

Most volunteers would knock on the doors of renters who live within L.A. city limits, he said, but some would be heading out to East L.A., which is an unincorporated area within L.A. County.

“These details matter,” said Jiménez, pointing at a brightly-colored pamphlet. “As we can see in our guide, tenant rights vary depending on where you live.”

“For example, if you live in the city of L.A., landlords have to provide relocation assistance if they increase your rent by 10% or more — and that’s not the case in other parts of the county,” he said.

Looking over the shoulder of a person with light brown skin holding a multi-colored pamphlet with the title "Community Tenant Guide." On the table is a Spanish-language version titled "Guia Para Inquilines."
Ahead of the community walks, a volunteer pored over the pamphlets that would be distributed to community members.
(Trevor Stamp
for LAist)

Jiménez pulled out another handout and added: “As we can see on this page, the repayment deadlines also depend on where you live.”

LAist Eviction Guide:
  • Want to know the latest on renter policies across L.A. County? LAist has an in-depth guide to how local rules are changing. 

After the volunteers practiced what they would say to community members, Jiménez provided more tips: Be courteous. Don’t spend more than 10 minutes at each home. Watch out for dogs. And don’t get discouraged.

“A lot of people are not going to open the door,” said Henry Pérez, the nonprofit’s executive director who also joined the community walks. “And that’s okay. Even if just one person opens the door, that’s one more person who’s informed — and that’s one more person who can share what they know with their family and friends.”

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A man dressed in a red sweater with the sleeves pulled up and wearing a baseball cap and glasses gestures as he addresses people who are out of frame. He has a face covering pulled down under his chin, and seated next to him are other people wearing face coverings.
Henry Pérez, executive director of InnerCity Struggle, speaks to staff members and volunteers before heading out.
(Trevor Stamp
for LAist)

Walking the community

Armed with pamphlets in English and in Spanish, the staff members and volunteers spread throughout the Eastside. In pairs of two, they went home-to-home, braving run-ins with feisty pets. The door-knocking took place during the early evening, and some children were playing in yards, while their parents got started on dinner.

Kimberly Alvarado, a resident of East L.A., was among the volunteers. She’s a member of Eastside LEADS, a nonprofit that’s opposed to gentrification and part of a coalition to help struggling renters.

A young woman wearing a yellow shirt and a light gray or white N-95 mask holds a clipboard and stands on a sidewalk in front of a painted iron fence. Power lines and tree branches with pink blossoms extend overhead and behind her. She wears a turquoise ring on her left index finger and a beaded bracelet on her left wrist. Another woman stands a few feet behind.
Kimberly Alvarado, left, and Kimberly Ortega plan out their routes.
(Trevor Stamp
for LAist)

“We want tenants to know that they have rights, permanent rights,” Alvarado said. “And, if they have any questions, we want them to know how to self-advocate, how to protect themselves — because we don’t want any more folks to become displaced.”

LAist Rent Control Cheat Sheet:
  • Do you live within the rent freeze boundaries? How much can your rent go up right now? Here’s your guide to local rules on rent hikes.

Alicia Godínez also volunteered to tell her neighbors in Boyle Heights about the city’s latest tenant rules. When her knocks went unanswered, she left a pamphlet on the edge of each door. She also approached people out on the sidewalk.

“If my neighbors are facing harassment or an unfair eviction, they need to know they’re not alone,” she said. “When you know your rights, landlords can’t just kick you out.”

Two women, one wearing red and one wearing yellow, are both walking away from the porch of a house while carrying canvas tote bags. Both wear name tags, and the one in the back can be seen wearing a face covering. The tote bag in the front has a graphic printed with multiple languages, and in larger print is the Spanish word, "Vota."
When community members did not answer, Godínez and Ortega left pamphlets at the door.
(Trevor Stamp
for LAist)

As an ice cream truck made its rounds by Stevenson Middle School, Godínez spoke at length with a woman named Teresa Ortiz, who was in her front yard with her grandson.

Ortiz, a renter who sells cakes to her neighbors on the weekends, said she appreciated the information.

“Bring me more pamphlets,” she told Godínez. “I can hand them out to my clients.”

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