By Alecia Reid

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Making ends meet right now is difficult for many people, especially making rent or mortgage payments. Some renters want the state and federal governments to suspend those payments during the coronavirus pandemic.

As the rush to reopen debate rages, renters say the rush to their May rent deadline is also looming and urgent action is needed.

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“Ideally for all of us, a rent moratorium or freeze as long as the crisis is unfolding is essential,” Samantha Rise, of West Philadelphia, said.

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And as the COVID-19 crisis continues to unfold, the number of people suffering from income instability is disturbing.

“While our income is not secured or guaranteed, housing is a basic right,” Rise said.

Some are calling for a rent strike.

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Councilmember Helen Gym is challenging the state and federal governments to suspend rent and mortgage payments and issue cash assistance in order to keep families in their homes.

A newly formed tenants council in West Philly called the Philadelphia Tenants Union wants their reality group to make a pledge. More information on the union can be found here.

“To meet us in this place of saying, ‘We’re not going to put people out on the streets.'” Rise said.


“First of all, you can’t be evicted, a person can lock you out. That means change the locks,” Charles Gibbs, an attorney with McMonagle Perri, said. “If someone locks you out, you should call 911 first. Every day from Monday till Friday, there’s an emergency judge that sits in City Hall. You would have to go to the criminal justice court first and file a petition to be restored to your property.”

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Grassroots efforts advocating for renters’ rights continue with a car rally around the Philadelphia Museum of Art this weekend. For more information on this weekend’s rally, click here.