Wan-take: Post-pandemic housing crisis

It’s official—finding and keeping a home in California, really anywhere in the world, is now nearly impossible. Since the National COVID Moratorium ended on Oct. 1, landlords have quickly increased rent and threatened to evict tenants who had already been struggling to make ends meet. Especially in Diamond Bar, one of the most expensive communities in the county, thousands of residents have been left with an ultimatum—be indebted to a bank for the rest of their lives or live on the street. 

But, this isn’t anything new. In fact, ever since the pandemic hit over a year and a half ago, families across the country have been struggling to pay rent—many due to losing their jobs or having to quit work in order to care for loved ones. The only thing that was protecting these families was the rent moratorium, and, now, without it, they are left both vulnerable and unprepared. 

As someone who interned at a local real-estate company this past summer, I received multiple emails from families in Diamond Bar saying they couldn’t afford the $300-$500 rent increase and asking if there was anything we could do to help them. Besides a select few, the rest were given the same email: “I’m so sorry, but no.” Each time I sent this email, a little part of me died, knowing these families would be evicted within the month and potentially have nowhere else to go. 

Granted, the state government has a system where people can apply for aid, but this application has its own flaws. Not only is it hundreds of documents long, but in order to be eligible for aid, people must be low-income, unemployed, disabled or caring for multiple family members—limiting the amount of people that can benefit from them. What’s even worse is that a majority of those looking for aid are immigrants—some incapable of reading these complicated documents that will determine their housing situation for the upcoming months. 

And, for those who now have to look for another place to rent or buy, the housing market has become yet another dead end. According to an article by CNBC, the record-low supply of homes for sale have left a majority of buyers entering into intense bidding wars. The same can be said for renters. The qualifications to rent right now are sky-high, requiring a close to perfect applicant with a specific type of job, income and number of family members. 

All of these people are looking for one of the most basic necessities to life—a roof over their head. Despite this fact, many people have defended the rent increase, saying these tenants can move to another state or just find a better job that’s willing to pay more. But, these arguments are all ones of privilege. 

These opposers have no right to assume the circumstances of those struggling to pay rent. Many of these families may not be willing to take the risk of losing their jobs, especially since the majority of those hiring right now are low-paying businesses who can only afford to pay their workers minimum wage. 

Maybe the economy can’t take another moratorium, but there needs to be better programs put in place for people to receive housing assistance. The qualifications should not be a lengthy list or have an application process that’s longer than getting into college. It should be concise, simple and available to anyone who needs it.