Oakland City Councilwoman Nikki Fortunato Bas and other Bay Area speakers joined a national digital rally on Wednesday calling for government entities to cancel rent, mortgage and utility payments in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Rally participants also called for a guarantee of homes for everyone under the banner of their “Beyond Recovery” campaign.
“We all need relief to make it through this crisis for a new equitable future.”
“We demand immediate debt relief and relief from rent and utility payments so people can stay safe together.”
“Now is the time for us to unite across our differences and make policy choices that help everyday people, not the wealthiest 1 percent.”
Lenea Maibaum of the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco, who has been a renter for more than 20 years, said she’s having a hard time making her rent payments because a large company bought the building where she lives and increased her rent dramatically.
Maibaum said she also lost her job at a San Francisco hotel because it temporarily closed its doors since it doesn’t have any guests in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.
Sunni Hutton, who moderated the digital rally, said:
“We need immediate relief for the millions of workers across the country who won’t be able to pay rent, mortgages or utilities on April 1 and the millions more workers who won’t be able to pay them on May 1. We need legislators to step up and cancel rent.”
Hutton said assistance in the recent stimulus package approved by federal legislators and signed by President Donald Trump won’t cover one month’s rent for many people, much less the lost wages, health insurance, utility payments and groceries that millions of people will need.
Among the others who participated in the rally were speakers from Southern California, Minnesota, Colorado, Massachusetts and Chile. Grammy-nominated musician Ana Tijoux of Chile sang a song from her home.
Tijoux said fighting the coronavirus is important but added:
“We need to fight the bigger enemy, which is the system. Capitalism is a disease and a sickness.”