For months, politicians and economists have been warning about the looming crisis of evictions and home loss due to the pandemic.
It appears now the wait is over. In LA, eviction notices are being served, as people who were late with their rent before the COVID-19 crisis are now being locked out.
Daniel Levek is one such person dealing with the crisis.
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He was about eight hours into being homeless when he spoke with NBCLA. He was kicked out of his LA apartment he called home for 20 years. LA County Sheriff’s deputies executed his eviction.
"A million of other people behind me are facing the same thing," he said.
Levek says he lived in a rent controlled LA apartment for 20 years. He said his building was sold and is under new management, and that he missed one rent payment back in March 2019 while dealing with a personal tragedy.
"I assumed I had paid. I had paid for 20 years. I just never heard from my landlord. When I found out that a payment was even late it was with an eviction notice," he said.
Last January, a judge approved the eviction.
LA still has an eviction moratorium in place but only for renters impacted by COVID-19. There are no protections for people who may have gotten behind on rent pre-pandemic.
"I was in the best possible situation and I’m still homeless," he said.
LA City Councilman David Ryu sponsored a failed resolution to ban all evictions and reassess the pandemic’s economic impact in November.
"We are trying everything in our power to get people off the streets and into housing and here we have people being evicted and becoming homeless. This just boggles the mind," Ryu said.
Now, Ryu has introduced a rent relief program. He wants LA to borrow from funds designated for cities in the Federal Cares Act, up to 20% of the city’s budget -- between $2 and $4 billion -- to help tenants pay rent and utility bills.
Attorney Elena Popp with the Eviction Defense Network has been working with Ryu to help tenants.
"We cannot have evictions happening in the middle of this pandemic. This is not a housing issue -- it’s a health issue," Popp said.
As he was sorting out his belongings, Levek revealed he’s autistic and recently applied for disability. Professionally, he’s a writer.
He said his story foreshadows a fate thousands of families in LA face who had eviction judgements against them pre-pandemic.
"This is a preventable disaster -- we just need to keep the stay on eviction," he said. "It is absolutely unnecessary. It just needs to stop. Nobody needs to go through this."
Levek said he’s apartment hunting and has enough money saved to stay at a hotel for a few days. But he brought up another point: What happens to the family with kids who are now homeschooled who may face eviction?
While advocates race to find solutions, you can find some resources available here.