Rental Insecurity Strikes Fear In Chicagoans

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Angela Ybarra, Writer

Washing your hands while singing happy birthday, wearing a face mask, and practicing social distancing is the new norm. Covid-19 has changed our lives. The classes of 2020 can attest to that, there has been much that has been given up. No proms, no graduation ceremonies, no handshakes or summer internships. We have come down to hosting virtual this or that’s’ just to have some semblance of normality. Our homes have become our refuge from the uncertainty of the world. We have curled up on our coaches, in sweatpants, binging a Netflix series, and all while eating an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey. Classrooms, offices, and boardrooms have been replaced by bedrooms, kitchen tables, and living room couches. But what if that constant in our lives, our refuge, our homes are lost to Covid? 

One-room apartments, two flats buildings, and even single-family homes are being lost to us. Many are facing eviction and homelessness for the first time in their lives. Foreclosures and evictions are taking place due to loss of jobs, unemployment taking weeks to come through and bipartisan parties trying to figure out how much Americans can live on.  People live in fear of the possibility of eviction and some have already fallen victim to this fate.  

Disproportionately people of color, low-income families, and the elderly have fallen victim to the hardships of homelessness and dealing with Covid. How is this all possible? Isn’t this America?  Aren’t we supposed to be living the American Dream and not the American nightmare? 

Knowing your rights during this pandemic may be your best form of defense. An ordinance called the Covid 19 Eviction Protection Ordinance outlined on the City of Chicago’s website has the information that is needed to try and work with your landlord. It is an unenviable situation to be in. As a landlord, you perhaps purchased these additional pieces of rental properties so that you could pay your bills and now without rent coming in you are behind in your bills. The renter is dodging calls from creditors and the landlord because they are trying to decide which to pay this month. It is a twisted situation causing many sleepless nights. 

From a place of kindness and understanding, we must try to come out of our comfort zones but stay socially distant and wear your mask in order to help one another. Financial assistance may not be what you can offer but a home-cooked meal or a phone call to check up on your friends, family or neighbors might just be the difference between giving up and fighting on. We are living in a society fueled by fear and hate.  Now is the time to come together and arm ourselves with kindness and knowledge to stave off the fear and strive to become the communities we need to be in during this pandemic and beyond.