Coronavirus: Renters out of work due to COVID-19 shelter-in-place

The first day of the month means rent will be due for many in the Bay Area and that has many of those who are out of work on edge.

7 On Your Side talked with a Bay Area man who's been advocating for tenants for some 20 years. He says he's never seen so much stress among so many renters.

"So I think it's a very scary time for renters right now," said Tommi Avicolli Mecca of the Housing Rights Committee.

RELATED: Bay Area residents affected by COVID-19 crisis concerned about making April rent

The group's renters hotline received a record 75 calls recently in one day -- mostly from people like a couple of entertainers who lost 40 percent of their income due to the coronavirus shutdown, or a hairdresser who virtually has no money coming in right now.

"Like we've fallen off the Titanic and we're looking for a piece of wood to hang on to," said hairdresser Janice Lewis of Concord.

"They can't pay their rent. They're scared. They're worried. They don't understand that they have rights," said Avicolli Mecca.

Nearly one dozen jurisdictions in the Bay Area have passed eviction moratoriums. Those include San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda City, Alameda County, Concord, San Jose, Santa Clara County and Marin County.

RELATED: Bay Area officials add new restrictions on what people can do during extended COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders

The moratoriums buy you time, but will require that you eventually pay the landlord for any rent past due.
"Our recommendation is that you basically write the landlord. Let the landlord know what the situation is. It's really about all you can do right now," said Avicolli Mecca.

The bottom line: don't just ignore your landlord and try to work out a payment plan.

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