What if They Held a Pandemic (And A Rent Strike Broke Out Instead?) 

Prepare for a May Day like no other.

Page 4 of 4

Schur of ACCE said the purpose of the rent strike is not to hurt landlords, but to pressure Gov. Newsome to declare temporary relief from housing costs during the state of emergency. "Small landlords, homeowners, and tenants all need relief," she said. The demands of the strike include protections for all of them. "The rent strike is taking people's economic reality and giving it a voice," said Schur. "We're finding people who are suffering alone and engaging them into an organization that's fighting for relief."

Statewide calls with more than 100 participants coordinate "an aggressive outreach campaign with mass texts, Facebook ads, and more," encouraging tenants to sign pledges to withhold rent on May 1, Schur said. Thousands have pledged already, and she predicted there will be 10,000 by May 1.

Locally, tenant activists like Ricky Zepeda are collecting strike pledge forms from their neighbors. Zepeda, who is blind, and has some income from disability payments, lives with his wife and adult children. Both his son and son-in-law were laid off when the stay-at-home order started, and his daughter's hours were drastically reduced.

Zepeda predicts that everyone in his eight-unit building will join the rent strike. "If they barely made payment last month, they're not going to be able to pay this month," he said. "I know I ain't. I got other bills to pay."

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