UCLA holds virtual forum to discuss the 'need to cancel rent'

UCLA conducted a virtual forum Monday called "The Next Disaster under COVID-19: Mass Evictions."

According to the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy, about 365,000 renter households in Los Angeles County will be in 'imminent danger of eviction and homelessness' once the eviction moratorium is lifted on September 30. Other studies suggest more than 400,000 households will be impacted.

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The data also shows the evictions will disproportionately impact communities of color.

"Regardless of what numbers you use, they are massive. What we're saying is it's systemic. It is interlocking with other forms and other factors that existed before the crisis," said Professor Paul Ong from the UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge.

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The forum included professors and community organizers who talked about the need to cancel rent.

"They're going to need to cancel rent because of the necessities people need but they cannot get because they cannot pay rent, and without paying rent, there are evictions coming. There will be an increase in homelessness," said Jason Li from Chinatown Community for Equitable Development.

The City of LA launched an emergency renter's relief program in July, estimated to help 50,000 households. The program allocates $103 million to provide a rent subsidy for low-income tenants in the city of Los Angeles who are unable to pay rent due to circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The majority of the funds -- $100 million -- come from the city's federal CARES Act stimulus money. It will provide a grant of up to $1,000 per month, with a maximum grant of $2,000 per household, and will be paid directly to the tenant's landlord. However, people struggled to apply and many missed the deadline.

"Debt is not our fault and we shouldn't take it in that way and we shouldn't feel ashamed of it. We should see it as power to take back control over our housing situation," said Elizabeth Blaney from the Los Angeles Tenants Union.

The forum was put on by UCLA Asian American Studies Center, UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy, UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge, Ktown for All, Union de Vecinos, Chinatown Community for Equitable Development and UCLA Asian American Studies Department.