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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

San Diegans caravan to extend rent moratorium

Families struggling to pay rent are pleading for rent relief.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, California — There are pleas from renters who said they could lose everything if the current eviction moratorium expires.

Californians owe an estimated $1.7 billion in back rent and still find themselves unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

State lawmakers are hoping to extend the moratorium while Gov. Gavin Newsom looks to the federal government for help.

The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) joined several struggling tenants from across the state Wednesday in a caravan to lawmaker’s neighborhoods including, Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) in Grant Hill.

The moratorium is set to expire after January 31, and an estimated 240,000 Californians in rent debt could be evicted.

They are pushing to support AB 15 which would extend the moratorium, but still require some money to be owed. AB 16 would provide billions of dollars COVID-19 debt relief for struggling tenants and landlords.

“It’s not like we are trying to get out of it, but whose fault is this? No one,” said Patricia Duran, ACCE.

Mothers and fathers and their children and rental advocates caravanned on Posada, a Mexican holiday where Joseph and Mary look for “room at the Inn.”

“My home is essential. We deserve a place to live,” said Patricia Mendoza. “That is one of the scariest things as a mother. How do you tell your kids we are living out of a van or we are going to be homeless?”

Patricia Mendoza said she received her 60 days notice and was supposed to be out in November. There are city and county and other rental assistance programs, but she said landlords find loopholes.

“There is really no help if the landlord doesn't want to accept that money,” said Mendoza.

A single mother of two children in El Cajon said she lost her job as an office manager while on maternity leave. Ashley Connor said she’s been getting by paying her rent with her savings, but it is running dry and she's late on her December rent. She said she applied for county rental assistance in September and it is still pending.

“It's a daily stress. I lose sleep over it. It's all I think about,” said Connor.

State lawmakers have proposed extending the eviction moratorium until the end of 2021. South Bay Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez supports it, many landlords do not.

“Millions of Californians have been unable to afford basic necessities during this pandemic, forcing many to decide between paying rent or putting food on the table,” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego). “With cases of coronavirus surging across the state, it’s critical we immediately extend protections for renters to avoid mass evictions and ensure families can remain safely in their homes.”

Senator Ben Hueso e-mailed News 8 a statement:  

Even before COVID-19, far too many Californians struggled to keep their homes. The economic hardships brought on by the pandemic have unfortunately exacerbated this problem. During the upcoming legislative session, I will be working diligently with my constituents and colleagues in the Legislature to keep roofs over families’ heads and prevent further evictions in our state.”

If nothing is done, the moratorium will be lifted and full rent will be due on February 1.