"It doesn't matter how many threatening text messages a landlord or a building sends to their tenants, or how much you threaten legal action, it doesn't matter how much you intimate anybody, people can't pay," Ocasio-Cortez continued.
According to the most recent numbers listed by the U.S. Department of Labor, more than 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment over the last six weeks, with 3.84 million claims filed just in the week ending April 25.
"I was already a dishwasher, I make like $12.50 an hour," rent striker Aasir Cherot told AJ+. "I don't even, I guess, qualify for unemployment because I didn't make enough money. My roommates are all in similar situations as far as our finances. So we really had no choice but to sort of organize ourselves around not paying rent to our landlord."
According to CNN, tens of millions of people are still waiting to receive their stimulus checks, and many others might not have received the full amount they were eligible for, such as an extra $500 per qualifying child.
Undocumented immigrants, who contribute billions in federal taxes every year, are ineligible for stimulus payments. Many U.S. citizens who are married to an undocumented immigrant have also found themselves ineligible for the checks, according to the New York Times.
WeStrikeTogether.org, the website that is acting as the main hub for the rent strike, says more than 190,200 people have signed up to participate in the protest.
But not paying rent will leave many landlords without a way of paying their mortgage or property taxes. For many, their only source of income may be their tenants.
“Landlords are being made the scapegoat for all the problems,” Jay Martin, the executive director of Community Housing Improvement Program, told the Times.
As noted by the outlet, Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota recently introduced the Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act of 2020 to help both renters and landlords during the crisis.
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