PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Philadelphia Museum of Art was a scene of a protest on Saturday as demonstrators say they can’t afford to pay rent because of the coronavirus pandemic. They’re demanding that the payments are canceled.
Protesters say they can’t work and just don’t have the money to pay rent, but landlords are naturally pushing back, saying not so fast.
May 1 is less than a week away and with any calendar turn, come bills.
“If we can’t work, we can’t pay and that the dignity of our people is of the utmost concern,” Lia Ferrante, with the Party of Socialism and Liberation, said.
Renters and landlords alike are worried about the new month.
A nationwide “Cancel the Rent” protest came to the city on Saturday as the Philadelphia Tenants Union, the Party of Socialism and Liberation, and others protested paying for housing through the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, asking for rates to remain frozen as well to prevent landlords from recouping losses.
“People don’t bear this burden because people have lost their jobs and people don’t have the money now, they’re not going to have it three months worth later down the line,” Ferrante said
The protesters also want zero debt accumulation to landlords and banks.
The Vice President of Homeowners Association of Philadelphia says that won’t happen, but they’re open to helping people who are struggling to make ends meet.
“How is the landlord suppose to pay his bills? How is he supposed to pay for insurance? If he’s paying for heat in the building, the heat? How’s he supposed to pay for lighting?,” Victor Pinckney Sr said.
HAPCO protects rental landlords and real estate investors. Pinckney says landlords are not blaming those who can’t pay, but rent strikes are illegal.
The association is advising renters to use money from the SNAP program, unemployment, and the PPP program, where applicable, to pay what you can.
“Don’t tell me what you think I want to hear, tell me what you think you can do to get caught up,” Pinckney said.
“A lot of these people are very scared and their No. 1 priority is food,” Ferrante said.
The First District Courts extended its no-eviction order until June 1.