Health Care

As eviction moratorium ends, renters begin to call out landlords

“I need this [protest] to be an example of what’s going to happen to every landlord who tries and comes to hurt our people,” said renter said Sucely Murillo. “We’re going to come at them as well.”
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Published on August 3, 2021
By Steve Ahlquist

“We’re here because the system doesn’t seem to care about people like us,” said Sucely Murillo, who rents an apartment at 106 Comstock Avenue in Providence from Alberto Perez. Perez declined to speak to reporters. “We’re here because I have managed to live in an unhealthy and unsafe situation, along with my family, and nobody has noticed it. Nobody has done anything about it even though I have reached out to code enforcement and any city leaders you can imagine.”

Nothing worked, said Murillo, “so we rely on doing a call to action.”

Around two dozen people, friends and activists with Tenant Network Rhode Island, gathered and protested outside the home of Murillo and her landlord, who lives next door, complete with signs and chants.

“We want our leaders to listen to us,” said Murillo. “We want our leaders to know that … we have a whole community supporting each other. If any other family goes through this, we’re going to be there with signs. We’re going to be there with cameras. If we see something wrong we’re going to put it on Facebook because apparently social media is what makes people react.”

The federal eviction moratorium ended on Sunday when Congress failed to extend it. Over seven million Americans face possible eviction. The billions of dollars set aside for rent relief have been trickling out due to overcomplicated forms and the inability of some municipalities to get the money out the door.

But the other side of the problem is the lack of quality affordable housing. Sucely Murillo says that the apartment she and her family are in is infested with cockroaches and other vermin. Her children say they sleep with the lights on to avoid having cockroaches crawl on them at night.

“I’m trying to get my landlord to fix the property, not only for me but for the other families that live out here who deserve to live in a peaceful and safe environment,” said Murillo. “We’re working families, we’re good families – but our system sucks…

“What going to happen now? Are we going to have families in tents? They’re mad about encampments now. What are they going to do when they see families just laying down in the street?” asked Murillo.

“Yes, we have rent relief. You know what kind of struggle it is to get rent relief? I have not gotten any rent relief. I’ve gotten help from my community and that’s it,” continued Murillo. “I need this [protest] to be an example of what’s going to happen to every landlord who tries and comes to hurt our people. We’re going to come at them as well.”

“We’re here for Sucely and her family, but this is bigger than her and her family,” said Johnny from Tenant Network RI. “Especially with this eviction moratorium out, we’re going to see lots of people being put out into the streets… The housing stock in Providence is ridiculously bad… The houses are rundown and they are overpriced…”

Too many houses are unsafe, infested with cockroaches and rats, along with skyrocketing rents, said Johnny, who reminded those listening that the pandemic is not over.

“Governor McKee could sign an eviction moratorium tomorrow. Governor Raimondo should have done it last year,” continued Johnny. “This is going to be all on them… There’s millions of dollars in rent relief that’s not being allocated because it’s being pushed on underfunded and understaffed nonprofits to do the work.”

Though landlord Alberto Perez declined to speak to reporters, he did call the police on the protesters. To their credit, officers of the Providence Police Department simply reminded the protesters to be safe, and did nothing to break up the protest.

Will James had the livestream on Instagram:

Alberto Perez

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