A Student Publication of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA


A Student Publication of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA


A Student Publication of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA


Women empower each other to exercise their rights as renters

Pomona Economic Opportunity Center is helping a group of women ensure they aren’t being illegally evicted.
Sav Vivanco
Illustration drawn by Sav Vivanco (@scruffiandraws on Instagram)

During the April 8 Pomona city council meeting, a group of tenants shared their stories of how they experienced harassment from their landlords.

Ana Lopez*, Rosa Robles* and Marta Barajas* received eviction notices from their landlords after standing up for their rights as tenants.

The trio reached out to the Pomona Economic Opportunity Center for support and then brought their grievances to the Pomona City Council. The women pleaded with the council members to pass an anti-harassment ordinance to protect renters from landlords.

“I’ve been living there for years since I arrived from Houston, Texas [with my daughters], that was the opportunity I got,” Lopez said. “I’ve been under psychological and mental pressure ever since I moved in, not to anger him or else he would kick us out.”

PEOC has been working for 10 years on housing support, protection and the opportunity to have the right to legal counsel during the eviction process with other organizations around LA County.

Debra Mendez, PEOC housing justice coordinator, understands the importance of having a support group to rely on during the stressful process.

“The silver lining is we’re building a community here,” Mendez said. “In our hardship, there is some sort of bonding that is happening.”

Mendez describes their relationship as being very communal. If Lopez doesn’t know something, Robles helps her. If Robles needs help, Barajas supports her in any way she can. They take trips to the Eviction Defense Network seeking legal defense and bond together as they empower each other to practice their freedom.

Each story stood on its own, but a common thread of not giving up until they were heard connected each woman’s eviction tale.
Lopez asked for help when her landlord refused to fix a broken light. Mendez assisted her with writing an official letter that explained her rights and handed the letter that asked for her basic needs to be met. The landlord fixed it.

After Lopez handed the landlord a second letter to fix another kitchen appliance, he started keeping a closer eye on them.

“He doesn’t fix it but no one can enter his property [to fix things] because it’s his property,” Lopez said.

He told Lopez’s daughters they weren’t allowed to have friends over and installed cameras in the front of his house to keep an eye on who was entering his property.

Soon after, the landlord refused to take rent from Lopez and handed her a 60-day eviction notice.

In Robles’ case, she feels knowing her rights is the reason she is being evicted.

Robles’ landlord has raised her rent 10% every year since she moved in. She received a notice from Pomona that explained the city adopted Urgency Ordinance 4320 which capped a rent increase to 4% as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

After rallying the rest of the tenants to stand up for their rights, the landlord kept the increase at 4%.

Months later, Robles’ landlord increased it back up to 10%. She spoke out against it again, but this time she was alone.

After she refused to pay the extra 10%, her landlord banned Robles from having parties, told her she couldn’t have a dog even though she was paying an extra fee and installed cameras in his apartment that were also pointed at her front doorstep.

And just like Lopez, the landlord refused to take Robles’ rent and later handed her an eviction notice.

“I’m not afraid because I know I didn’t do anything wrong,” Rosa said. “We just want him to respect the tenant’s rights.”

In Barajas’ case, she says she was tricked into her eviction notice. Her original landlord sold the house but told Barajas she was not going to be kicked out of the house she was renting.

When the sale was official and the new landlords took over the payments, the realtor asked for identification for the new lease contract.

Instead, the new owners handed Barajas a 60-day eviction notice.

According to the Urgency Ordinance 4320, if a landlord wants to evict a tenant before the lease expires, they need to “demonstrate that terminations of tenancy qualify as either For Cause or No-Fault and requires landlords to pay a relocation fee for terminations that qualify as No-Fault.”
Mendez explains that an eviction notice is not enough to kick tenants out of a house before the lease expires.

“They just assume, especially because of their immigration status,” Mendez said. “They are much more prone to exploitation. This is what this is – its exploitation.

PEOC will continue to campaign for the ordinance and will rally at the next city council meeting in May.

*The names of the stories have been changed in fear of retaliation from the landlords. For more information on tenant’s rights and future workshops, contact PEOC through their website.

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About the Contributor
Anthony Solorzano
Anthony Solorzano, Opinions Editor
Anthony Solorzano is the Opinions Editor. He has been pursuing journalism since he realized he hated his job. Anthony loves to tell stories using humor. He finds pop culture to be the truest form of pretentious art.

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