By Heather Janssen

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — For the last few months, bills have been piling up for Sonia Rodriguez.

“We can’t pay the rent. We can’t pay our car payment. We can’t pay our bills,” Rodriguez said. “It’s just too much, we’re going to be back-paying for years to come.”

Her normally 40-50 hour a week job has since cut her hours to 15 maximum, and her experience with EDD in California hasn’t been pleasant either. Her claim has sat with the status pending for the last six weeks, and she expects that to continue.

“Fifteen hours a week puts food on the table but it’s not able to pay the rent or any other bills,” she said.

Rodriguez has been unable to pay rent since April and won’t be able to pay for July either. She said her once-promising financial future faded fast.

“I went from potentially buying a home to — I’m at a standstill,” Rodriguez said.

The Sacramento Tenants Union says plenty of other Californians are in the same boat.

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“Many thousands of people, to no fault of their own, cannot pay their rent,” Elliot Stevenson, with the Sac Tenants Union said. “However, not doing so will put them at risk of losing their housing.”

Stevenson said it’s hard to know exactly how many people are impacted, but knows it’s substantial. A statewide order allowing local governments to put eviction moratoriums in place is set to expire at the end of July. Which begs the question for many: then what?

“While we would love to say oh don’t worry there’s a fix in place, right now all they can do is explain to their landlord they don’t have any money,” Stevenson said.

The possible looming eviction crisis could impact more than just renters, too. If landlords and property owners don’t receive rent, some can’t pay their mortgages. Experts, like Joshua Howard with the California Apartment Association, say this could lead to dire economic consequences.

“When rent goes unpaid that creates a domino effect, that can ultimately lead to them losing that rental property to foreclosure,” Howard said. “That’s not good for anyone. It would put those units back on the market, force the renters to move and that’s not good for the economy or the renter.”

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The question many are waiting to learn the answer to is what the fix could be. The Sac Tenants Union advocates for rent forgiveness and in turn, mortgage cancellation for the previous pandemic months. Others just hope landlords and tenants can reach agreements on flexible payment plans or turn to local and state governments for funding.

Whatever the option may be, Rodriguez hopes it comes soon.

“You don’t know how long it’s going to last,” Rodriguez said. “You don’t know if it’s going to last until next year, which puts everyone in a bind.”

The City of Sacramento plans to take up their eviction moratorium in their Tuesday council meeting, likely voting to extend it through the end of July.

Tuesday evening Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order extending the ability for local governments to halt evictions for renters through Sept. 30.

https://twitter.com/CAgovernor/status/1278163466553982976

Heather Janssen

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