Concord tenants push back after 'unfair' rent hike implemented, despite pandemic

CONCORD, Calif. (KGO) -- Many tenants are unable to pay their rent during the pandemic and the state has offered protections on rent increases to help people stay in their housing.

But a 300-unit low income housing complex in Concord is raising rent. Tenants are outraged.

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Today they marched along Monument Boulevard with signs and bullhorns to denounce the rent increases.

Hundreds of residents in the Clayton Crossing apartments say they're terrified - they've been trying to negotiate with their landlord to hold off on increasing their rent.
"I live with my son. I am a single mother. So I lost my job in March," tenant Alma Jimenez said.

She is an unemployed housekeeper. She hasn't been able to pay her rent since May, saying she now owes $8,000. Add onto that a substantial monthly rent increase.

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Tenants unable to pay rent because of the pandemic were protected by eviction moratoriums -- some of which are about to expire.

All tenants in California who owe back rent from September through January must pay their landlord 25% by January 31. A rent increase makes that even more difficult say the tenants.

Nicole Zapata with the East Bay Alliance for A Sustainable Economy said, "Although the rent increase is legal right now, according to the laws, they are here saying it's not fair. While it's legal, it's not fair."

The group shared a letter from the property manager saying Clayton Crossing rents units under the federal low income housing tax credit program.
That, they claim, exempts them from state mandates during the pandemic that prohibit rent increases.

The letter tells tenants that rent increases will not be postponed further.

Local assistance groups are rallying to help the tenants.

"Normal people want fairness and compassion right now during this time, even if it's a legal thing," Kristi Laughlin with the Raise the Roof Coalition said. "Our question is, is it a just thing? Is it moral? Is it fair?"

ABC7 news talked to the leasing office and emailed the property management company, but there was no comment.

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