Gimme Shelter podcast: What’s behind those California rent strikes over coronavirus?

strike outside L.A. City Hall
Tenants and their supporters from gather at L.A. City Hall on last month for a rent strike, calling on government officials to cancel rent and mortgage payments during the coronavirus crisis.
(Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times)

Entering a second full month of stay-at-home orders aimed at stopping the spread of the novel coronavirus, renters and landlords across California are increasingly worried about paying their bills.

Some tenants have gone on what they’re calling a “rent strike,” refusing to pay it and adding a political statement to their economic hardship. The now monthly protest, which one group of activists says has attracted more than 12,000 California tenants, is to push government officials at all levels to cancel rent and mortgage payments, ensuring renters can stay in their homes now and when the pandemic ends.

On this episode of Gimme Shelter: The California Housing Crisis Podcast, we talk about how the rent strike movement is connected to the increasingly aggressive protests that have emerged across California since last fall — well before the pandemic. Our guests are Patricia Mendoza, a tenant in Imperial Beach who is on a rent strike, and Evelyn Garcia, a landlord whose family owns a small complex in South L.A.


Gimme Shelter,”a biweekly podcast that looks at why it’s so expensive to live in California and what the state can do about it, features Liam Dillon, who covers housing affordability issues for the Los Angeles Times, and Matt Levin, data and housing reporter for CalMatters.

You can subscribe to “Gimme Shelter” on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Soundcloud, Google Play and Overcast.