The deadline for Los Angeles renters to repay back rent that was missed during the first 19 months of the COVID-19 pandemic has come and gone. And with the expiration of the county’s eviction moratorium, officials across the city fear a rise in the homeless population.
Suzy Rozman was diagnosed with breast cancer in early 2021, lost her teaching job and fell eight months behind on her rent.
She now owes $9,000 in back rent. She said she can pay it back “slowly, but not how they want it.”
Thousands of Los Angeles tenants had rent waived during the first 19 months of the pandemic. Many owe a small fortune.
According to Zillow, the average monthly rent in Los Angeles is nearly $3,000 a month, a 75% jump since the pandemic began.
At the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, calls for help can wait three hours.
“It’s very hard for folks who are barely making it,” said Jeffrey Uno, the managing attorney at the foundation’s Eviction Defense Center.
He said the rent is all coming due “like a balloon payment. It’s frightening. Terrifying for most of them.”
In Los Angeles County alone, roughly 75,000 people — about the population of Scranton, Pennsylvania — have no permanent housing, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.
“We are very concerned about the fact that many more people could fall into homelessness,” said Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass.
And the problem isn’t limited to Los Angeles. Eviction protections in Hawaii, New York, Maryland, Minnesota and Illinois are set to expire in August.