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


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.

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.



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

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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LA’s COVID-19 Tenant Protections Have Expired. To Ensure Renters Know Their Rights, A Nonprofit Is Spreading The Word Door To Door

L.A. County’s COVID-19 tenant protections have expired, meaning renters can no longer put off making monthly payments due to pandemic-related harms. Tenants who are behind on rent will also have to pay back what they owe, though not all at once.

To help spread the word, tenant advocates throughout the region are turning to social media and hosting workshops. And at least one local nonprofit is making house calls: staff members and volunteers at InnerCity Struggle will go door-to-door in Boyle Heights, East L.A., El Sereno and Lincoln Heights on Monday, targeting streets with apartment buildings.

“It's a really critical time for [renters] to be informed,” said Daniel Jiménez, director of community organizing at the nonprofit. “We're walking the community to ensure that [residents] have the knowledge and resources they need.”

Community walks are a routine part of InnerCity Struggle, but they’re normally conducted ahead of election season to encourage voters to cast their ballots. This time around, the nonprofit is operating under a different sense of urgency.

One of Jiménez’s chief concerns is helping renters who took in extra roommates or pets amid the pandemic understand the current rules.

In the city of L.A., unauthorized roommates and pets will be allowed to remain in place until Jan. 31, 2024. But in the rest of L.A. County, they’re no longer allowed. Jiménez fears this could lead to confusion among renters — and potential evictions.

Aside from sharing information about the COVID-19 renter protections, the staff members and volunteers at InnerCity Struggle will distribute pamphlets with details on where to go to find support with other issues, including free legal counsel for anyone facing an eviction or landlord harassment.

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Los Angeles Schools Strike: Classes Called Off for 420,000 Students

LOS ANGELES — As rain pummeled the sidewalks and wind bent back umbrellas on Tuesday morning, Bartui Merchain, a pool clerk, arrived at her job at a recreation center, her children in tow.

She had left her 14-year-old son at home, but her workplace east of downtown Los Angeles suddenly had become an impromptu child supervision site for Mindy, 9, and Israel, 8.

Ms. Merchain, 36, had learned only the day before that school employees and teachers were going on a three-day strike, facing off against administrators in the nation’s second-largest school district. It would mean no classes for the district’s more than 420,000 students — news that many children seemed to greet with glee, though a number of parents felt blindsided.

“My son told me, ‘There’s no school Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday,’” Ms. Merchain said. “This really caught us off guard. Definitely. It’s not something that they prepared us for, like, for two weeks. They just straight up dropped it like a bomb.”

Across Los Angeles, the normal school week gave way to disruption on Tuesday. Children tagged along with parents, were sent to recreation centers or stayed with relatives. Teachers and school employees hit the streets, where they hoisted signs of outrage and chanted for better pay and working conditions.

The strike began on Tuesday morning with bus drivers walking a picket line outside a Los Angeles Unified School District lot where they normally would be starting their routes. The union that represents 30,000 teachers’ assistants, bus drivers, custodians and cafeteria workers is seeking a 30 percent pay increase, and union leaders say their members are paid not much more than the minimum wage as living costs surge in Southern California.

“We need a fair living wage,” said Jovita Padilla, 40, a bus driver who was among those protesting in a rainbow of ponchos.

Ms. Padilla, 40, had arrived at the bus lot in Van Nuys, a neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley, at 4 a.m. She asked for the day off months earlier to celebrate her 15-year-old son’s birthday. But years without a raise had made her determined to show up for the strike.

She said she often felt invisible in an industry that tends to praise teachers.

“Everybody else gets raises, what about us?” she said.

At a time when support for organized labor is at a high, strikes by teachers and education workers have become increasingly common. Add to that high inflation rates and competitive pay in the private sector, and public employees have felt the need for drastic change.

“No one wants to see kids out of school,” said Maura Contreras, a special education assistant at an elementary school. “But we now must take this step.”

Ms. Contreras, 45, said some of her co-workers were holding down several jobs to make ends meet. Her own salary barely helps pay for her three-bedroom apartment, she said. She splits the $2,800 rent with her husband and father, who both work as gardeners.

“There have to be changes in pay,” she said. “We are unseen by the district.”

Alberto M. Carvalho, the district superintendent, had for days publicly lamented the consequences that a strike would impose on students and families ensnarled in a dispute that was not theirs. He appealed to union members by pointing out the classroom hours lost during the Covid-19 school closures, saying that students “cannot afford to be out of school.”

Negotiations remained at a standstill on Tuesday, and, with classes scheduled to resume on Friday, the situation in Los Angeles did not seem to have the same sense of urgency that accompanies strikes that could go on for weeks.

Instead, parents and local leaders focused on figuring out how to muddle through the three days. The district hustled to put together contingency plans by setting up supervision sites where students could be dropped off for the day, as well as locations where families could pick up three days’ worth of breakfasts and lunches for students.

Mariam Sultani, 40, was among the steady stream of parents who lined up at a food distribution site on the Eastside to pick up grab-and-go boxes of food for her two daughters. She was handed two half-gallon containers of low-fat milk, cereal, oranges, bags of cookies, containers of hummus, small bags of carrots and other snacks.

“The free food does help. It’s one thing less we have to buy while the kids are out of school,” said Ms. Sultani, who sells knickknacks at outdoor swap meets to make money but mostly stays at home with her children.

Ms. Sultani said she supported those on strike.

“Let’s say they have a family with children, that’s not enough to support an entire family. They need a little more money for the work they do,” she said.

By noon on Tuesday, thousands of workers had convened outside the district office near downtown. Their spirits high, they gathered in groups as the sun peeked through the clouds.

Among them was Hugo Montelongo, 52, a special education assistant who has worked for the district for more than two decades.

“We worked through the pandemic and we were supposedly heroes,” he said. Often, he said, employees are living paycheck to paycheck.

The strike is one of the first major challenges for Mr. Carvalho, who became the Los Angeles superintendent in February 2022 after having served as the head of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

In the Los Angeles Unified School District, where 75 percent of students and families live at or below the federal poverty level, closing schools is detrimental for students still working to bridge the learning gaps incurred during pandemic school closures, Mr. Carvalho said in an interview.

“They depend on schools for stability, routine, for safety, for protection, but also for food in addition to good education,” he said.

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As COVID-19 Protections End, LA Renters And Landlords Brace For Possible Eviction Wave

Lilian Pacheco and her family have lived in a two-bedroom home in South L.A. for nine years. Until 2020, her husband worked in construction. She worked as a homemaker, looking after their four children.

The pandemic hit and upended the family’s stability. Pacheco’s husband contracted the virus in December 2020 and was hospitalized — it took months for him to recover. As a result, he lost his job. Now he works as a fruit and vegetable vendor, and Pacheco works part-time cleaning a movie theater. But three years after COVID-19 first struck the region, they’ve yet to return to their pre-pandemic income levels.

To get by, the family has relied on COVID-19 renter protections and rental assistance programs to help keep a roof over their heads. Those protections are set to expire Friday.

“I’m a little nervous,” Pacheco said. “The protections were kind of like a safety net. Without them, there’s no telling how property owners will act toward tenants.”

Pacheco’s family is among about 246,000 households in the L.A. metro area that are behind on rent and will soon face an increased risk of eviction, according to recent U.S. Census Bureau survey data. Since March 2020, tenants in L.A. County who’ve been affected by the pandemic have been able to postpone their monthly payments. April rent will be due in full.

Pacheco says her family owes their property owner $1,300, or one month of back rent, and she worries they may be asked to move out. (Her property manager confirmed the amount to LAist, but did not comment on any possible eviction plans.) Cobbling rent money together each month has been a challenge, but Pacheco says she knows that rent for a two-bedroom single-family home could be much higher.

Beginning Saturday, reduced household income due to pandemic-related job loss, illness or death won’t be grounds for deferring rent.

Tenant advocates signal that, though COVID-19 death and hospitalization rates have dropped, many renters are still grappling with the pandemic’s aftermath. Without renter protections, they fear that L.A. County could see a wave of evictions — this in a region that’s already struggling to address a mounting homelessness crisis.

“Communities are still being impacted by the COVID pandemic,” said Daniel Jiménez, director of community engagement at InnerCity Struggle, a nonprofit in Boyle Heights that’s helped renters during the pandemic. “Some [people] have lost their partners, who were the primary income earners. Some of them are sick themselves and can't work.”

The question of unpaid rent also looms large for some of the tenants who’ve relied on the COVID-19 renter protections. While some have been able to make payments, others have accumulated tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

Landlords and members of the real estate industry have called for an end to the COVID-era protections for months — L.A. officials have repeatedly extended help to renters far longer than in other major cities across the country.

“It needs to end! COVID is over!” said Erica Owens, human resources director at the real estate investment firm Universe Holdings, during a January L.A. County Board of Supervisors meeting.

“I just want us to get back to the fact that this is for COVID protection,” she said. “It’s not for us to solve homelessness and the housing issue . . . And it is very difficult for landlords to just bear the [b]runt of this, because the rents pay for the expenses on the properties.”

Some still haven’t recovered from the pandemic

Nina Woolley is a single mother who lives in Marina Del Rey with her three daughters, ages 12, 13 and 15.

During the pandemic, she was laid off from four different jobs and relied on the COVID-19 renter protections to stay afloat. She started off selling office supplies to local businesses.

“It was a good fit, everything was going great — but it's an in-person sales job,” she said. “Within two or three weeks of the pandemic, I was laid off — our whole department was laid off.”

After that, Woolley found work doing sales and marketing for a high-end construction company. “In one week, 40 people in a company with less than 100 employees got COVID,” she said.

Woolley then worked as a fashion and wardrobe stylist, followed by a stint at a company that rented venues for high school proms. These jobs also didn’t pan out. Each time the protections were extended, Woolley sighed in relief.

“It's terrifying,” she said. “I have a college degree, a totally diverse résumé. I've been successful in multiple industries — I can't keep work.”

Currently, Woolley works as a freelance wardrobe stylist for private clients, but she’s in search of steady employment. She said she owes about $26,000 in back rent, and has been repeatedly asked to move out. (Her property manager declined an interview with LAist and said they would not discuss any tenants’ financial history.)

“I mean, I can feel for them, too,” she said, in reference to her building’s management. “They want to get their money.”

“I’ve gotten used to it,” Woolley added, “but when I first started getting the notices, I would cry.”

Starting Saturday, Woolley worries about how she’ll be able to pay that sum back. She said she hopes to work with her landlord on a payment plan.

Martha Aguilar has also relied on the COVID-19 protections to keep a roof over her head. She’s 65 and lives in a one-bedroom apartment in Boyle Heights, a space she shares with two parakeets, one green and one blue.

Aguilar has lived in the neighborhood for about 11 years. Before the pandemic, she earned a living as an elote (corn on the cob) vendor. She also worked as a seamstress in factories throughout downtown L.A. At the height of the pandemic, she used those skills to sew up and sell face masks.

Aguilar contracted COVID-19 in mid-2021 — her neighbors helped her get by, they prepared meals for her and dropped them off at her door. Since getting sick, she’s had severe breathing problems, which limits her ability to work her push cart. Her eyesight is also faltering, she said, and her hands are no longer nimble. That makes it hard for her to find other work.

When she fell back on rent, Aguilar turned to two local nonprofits: Eastside LEADSand InnerCity Struggle. The organizations helped her fill out the paperwork for the COVID-19 protections and informed her about her rights as a tenant.

Aguilar is five months behind on rent — money she said she sees no path to pay back. When the protections expire, she’ll move into a motorhome with a friend in El Monte. Aguilar said the building owners have agreed to forgive her rent if she vacates the apartment in April. The family who owns the property did not respond to interview requests.

Aguilar said she feels fortunate to have somewhere to go, but worries about what comes next.

"If my friend leaves the state, like so many others have," she said, "I’ll be one more person on the street."

She can’t take much with her, so she’s been selling all her furniture over the past few weeks. She also can’t take her pets.

Aguilar liked to watch the news in her living room, while her birds flew all around her. Now she’s looking for someone willing to take them in.

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Evictions rise, tenants scramble for help as LA County protections expire

This story has been updated to reflect the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors vote to not extend its tenant protections.

Irma Cervantes could barely afford the $750 monthly rent for the converted garage apartment she lives in with her children in East Los Angeles when she worked full time at a laundromat.

When the pandemic shut down non-essential businesses, Cervantes was out of a job. Then she got sick with long COVID-19. 

Now she owes 10 months rent, she said, and is trying to pay it down. Her three children, ages 19 to 23, are helping by working part-time jobs. 

Her landlord has increased demands for payment and wants her out, Cervantes said. And on March 31, L.A. County’s tenant eviction protections are set to expire. 

“I’m left thinking, what will happen when there aren’t any protections,” Cervantes said. “What will I do with my kids? We can’t pay $1,600 rent.”

Across California nearly 600,000 people owe a total of $2.1 billion in back rent, researchers say. In Los Angeles city and county, nearly 200,000 people owe more than half a billion dollars in unpaid rent. 

Many tenants, like Cervantes, are on edge because state protections and rental assistance across the state diminished, and now local protections like L.A. County’s are phasing out. Housing rights advocates and attorneys say eviction lawsuits already are rising in the state’s most populous county; they’re bracing for even greater spikes once county pandemic protections go.

“Because both state and local eviction protections enacted during the pandemic have come to an end, it’s an even bigger crisis,” said state Sen. María Elena Durazo, a Los Angeles Democrat, during a recent press conference.

Protections end

California’s statewide tenant relief and protections ended in June 2022. The pandemic-era programs had shielded many tenants harmed by COVID-19 from eviction and offered financial assistance to help them pay back rent. 

Since then some city and county local measures kicked in to keep tenants in homes. Los Angeles County protections from evictions stepped in for city residents on Jan. 31. 

L.A. County’s tenant protections don’t prevent landlords from filing eviction lawsuits, which are called unlawful detainer suits. But the protections do give certain low-income tenants a defense in court if their rent was late between July 2022 and March 31 of this year due to the pandemic.

Beginning April 1, landlords will be able to evict tenants for a variety of reasons, but they’ll have to give tenants 30 days’ notice.

County supervisors Lindsey P. Horvath and Hilda Solis proposed a motion Tuesday that would have protected tenants from no-fault evictions until March 2024 if they were keeping up with rent as of April 1.  The measure was not approved by a majority of the five supervisors; two voted against it and one abstained, so the measure failed. Supervisors requested a report on some elements of the motion.

Horvath said before the vote that as a renter she recognizes that thousands would be at risk of losing housing after March 31 without this change.

“If we are going to solve this crisis, we must stop the inflow of people falling into homelessness by keeping them in the housing they are already in,” Horvath said in a statement.

Horvath argued at the meeting that another year of protections would give the county more time to help cities develop their own permanent protections.

Supervisor Janice Hahn said that while the county has a responsibility to help tenants in need of rental assistance, extending eviction protections would be an overreach of the board’s power.

“More than three years into having these emergency tenant protections county-wide, we’ve extended them time and time again and there has been time for cities to implement their own protections,” she said.

“At this point, for me, it feels like an overreach,” she added. “I think if there’s elected officials at the city level that still want more time, I’m urging you to act now.”

Solis said it’s the county’s duty, as “the safety net for our most vulnerable,” to protect people from losing their homes. 

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Scrap school police and add counselors and academic help for Black students, coalition says



Community and student activists on Tuesday relaunched a campaign to eliminate the Los Angeles School Police Department, calling instead for expansion of mental health and academic programs, college and career counseling and job and life-skills training — focusing especially on the needs of Black students.

The call from a coalition of organizations puts renewed pressure on Los Angeles Unified School District Supt. Alberto Carvalho as he also confronts tense labor negotiations and pushes forward with his own expensive agenda for academic progress.

Meanwhile, a group of Latino parents on Tuesday spoke out in support of school police — a counterpoint of the message delivered with passion by about 150 protesters on the steps of Mann UCLA Community School in South Los Angeles.

“We’ve been fighting the school-to-prison pipeline for decades,” said Amir Whitaker, senior policy counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. “And this fight to remove school police is a part of it.”

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L.A. County extends eviction moratorium by 2 months


With Los Angeles County’s pandemic eviction moratorium set to lapse in days, the Board of Supervisors has voted to extend the countywide renters protections once more.

The moratorium will now expire at the end of March. This, county leaders say, will be the last time they push the end date.

The moratorium, first put in place at the coronavirus pandemic’s outset, was initially set to end Jan 31. With some on the board still worried about the lingering financial impacts of the pandemic, county leaders voted Tuesday to extend the countywide moratorium through March 31.

“COVID is not over. People are still getting sick. They’re still out of work,” said Supervisor Lindsey Horvath, the board’s sole renter, who spearheaded the motion. “They’re still losing jobs and unfortunately still dying from COVID.”

Under the moratorium, landlords cannot evict low-income tenants who say they were financially harmed by COVID-19 and can’t pay rent.

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Sharing Exciting News and Embracing Change



Dear Friends and Allies,

I am writing to share important and exciting news. I have made the decision to transition from my role as Executive Director of InnerCity Struggle. I have been honored to lead this powerful organization and work with amazing staff, youth and community members and allies for over 20 years. I have decided to pursue new leadership avenues to help advance educational and social justice in the Eastside of Los Angeles and beyond. In the interim, I have agreed to serve as a Senior Advisor to InnerCity Struggle to support a smooth transition of roles to the Interim Executive Director – my long-time Associate Director and friend – Henry Perez. 

For the past over 20 years, I have been dedicated to building a movement to fight for great schools and thriving communities in the Eastside of Los Angeles. I have had the honor of uplifting community voices to win public policies and resources. Together with students and families, we raised graduation rates, reduced suspension and push-out rates, reallocated millions in new funding to Eastside schools and strengthened the safety net for Eastside of LA families.

Under my leadership, InnerCity Struggle has served as a movement organization advancing much needed systemic change.




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Henry Perez, and his social justice group ask Kevin de León to resign

De León has served as the LA City council member for District 14 since 2020 and said his resignation is not an option. “I have a moral obligation to my constituency, to give them a voice,” he told Smiley.

But for Henry Perez, associate director of Inner City Struggle, a social justice non-profit organization in CD-14, de León no longer represents the community of the Eastside. 

The week the audio was leaked, Inner City Struggle began reaching out to other community organizations in East LA, the majority with offices within CD-14, in order to formulate an open letter for de León. 

The open letter, which was published on Oct. 15, asked for de León’s immediate resignation. “Almost two years ago, you assumed your post as elected representative of District 14,” the letter addressed to de León read. “Since that time, and during your campaign, you stressed to residents that you were different from your predecessors and that we could trust you – but your uttered words in the recorded conversation at the LA Federation Of Labor have broken our already cautious trust.” 

Perez said that, as leading organizers within de León’s district, it was important to step toward the right side of the situation and demand justice.

Inner City Struggle was founded in 1994 by a small group of parents, youth, and residents in Boyle Heights. The organization was formed in the spirit of the civil rights movement, seeking to reduce crime and violence, and investing in training and organizing its residents.

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Mobilizing the Eastside: InnerCity Struggle hosts a voter carnival

Vive, vota y lucha. That was the slogan at the center of InnerCity Struggle’s campaign to mobilize Eastside voters in the upcoming elections with door-to-door registration, online guides and fun engagement events like Wednesday’s Lucha Carnival.

Latinos are almost half of the general population of Los Angeles. Getting Latinos to participate on Nov. 8 is critical to ensuring that communities like Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles have their voices heard, according to Kimberly Ortega, a spokesperson for the local nonprofit.

“Time and time again we have seen how important Latinos are when it comes to bringing change to our city,” Ortega said at the event, held at the organization’s Boyle Heights headquarters. “It’s important for everyone in the community to be informed on who and what is on the ballot so that we can increase our collective impact.”

According to Spectrum News, InnerCity Struggle is one of several LA nonprofits who received funding for voter outreach as part of the Latino Community Foundation’s “Yo voy a votar” initiative.

Going beyond typical voter engagement, the night’s carnival featured games, entertainment and prizes, all centered around propositions and measures on this year’s ballot that could have an impact on the Eastside.

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