Historic Tenant Delegation Travels to D.C.

11 Tenants From Across the Country Who Have Been Evicted or Face Mounting Rental Debt During the Pandemic to Meet Face-to-Face With Biden Admin and Congress

A delegation of 11 tenant leaders with the People’s Action’s Homes Guarantee campaign who have been evicted or face mounting rental debt during the pandemic will travel to Washington, D.C to meet face-to-face with government leaders. 

This delegation is historic: it’s the first time in more than a year that a group of tenants will meet in-person with the White House, the Treasury Department, and members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate concerning evictions and rental assistance.

These tenants represent the 30 to 40 million people currently at risk of eviction with no federal protections. People’s Action’s Homes Guarantee campaign is in the middle of the largest field operation in the history of the tenant movement, engaging over a million tenants in the process of writing their own rights into existence via a National Tenants’ Bill of Rights.

WHO: People’s Action Homes Guarantee tenant leaders from Miami, FL; Los Angeles, CA; The Bronx, NY; Kansas City, MO; Minneapolis, MN; Morehead, KY; Columbus, IN; Nashville, TN; and Las Vegas, NV. Download an advisory or a full list with bios here.

WHAT: Tenant Delegation in D.C.

WHEN: Mon., Sept. 20 – Wed., Sept. 22, 2021

WHERE: Washington, D.C.

Vivian Smith

Vivian Smith is a single mother, tenant, and leader with Miami Worker Center. In 2015 Vivian and her kids were forced from their home after being a month behind on rent. For years she lived in her car with her two children while working two full-time jobs. Vivian finally found a home, but her landlord filed an eviction case against her this past summer for being behind on rent. For months, Vivian has been forced to make choices between food for her family, her health, and her rent in order to survive.

Graciella Pinzon

Graciella Pinzon is a single mother of two, a hairdresser, and tenant in Los Angeles, California. When the pandemic started her job became unsafe. With $700 to her name, she was forced to choose between rent and food. She chose to feed her family. Gracie’s landlord filed an eviction case against her, bringing her to court while pregnant in the middle of a pandemic. Gracie has accrued over twelve months  of rental debt and hasn’t been approved for any rental assistance. Gracie now faces an imminent threat of being forced into the streets with her two children.

Corine Ombongo-Golden

Corine Ombongo-Golden is a tenant in New York City and leader with Northwest Bronx Community Clergy Coalition. For the last eighteen months Corine has been fighting breast cancer, as well as the devastating impacts the pandemic has had on her community. Since being laid off in March 2020, Corine has made choices between paying for medication or rent. Corine still hasn’t received a dime of rental assistance

John Brown

John Brown is a tenant in Kansas City, Missouri. John lost his construction work during the pandemic. He and his family were evicted from their home last summer, during the months before the CDC eviction moratorium went into effect. For months afterwards, the family was split up, living between hotels and friends’ houses. Due to the eviction on his record, John is currently unable to find a decent place to rent at a price he can afford.

Faith Plank

Faith Plank is a seventeen-year-old high school student and a leader with Kentucky Tenants in Morehead, Kentucky. She grew up in the North Fork Mobile Home Park. In March of 2020 Faith and her neighbors  were forced from their homes so that a developer could build a shopping mall where they lived. The eviction moratorium did not apply to them. Faith is now working 20 hours a week while in high school to help her mom pay the extra $600 in rent at the only apartment they could find after being displaced.

Sabrina Davis

Sabrina Davis is an unhoused 63 year old woman and a leader with KC Tenants. Sabrina’s landlord evicted her in August 2021, exploiting loopholes in the CDC eviction moratorium to evict for a “lease violation” instead of rent. While Sabrina battles this case in court, she is now living between friends’ homes to avoid the streets. Sabrina is disabled, and her homelessness has taken a significant emotional and physical toll on her. 

Randy Shelton

New York City, NY

Randy Shelton is a veteran, tenant, and leader with Hoosier Action in Columbus, Indiana. Throughout the course of the pandemic, Randy has had to constantly negotiate with his landlord about paying the rent. Right now he’s behind on September’s rent. This month he’s trying to decide between keeping the electricity on or having to risk being forced from his home.

Sommer Harpole

Sommer Harpole is a mother to four kids under the age of four, and a tenant in Nashville, TN. Since the start of the pandemic she’s been all consumed by trying to keep her two bedroom apartment. She applied for rental assistance in 2020, but the landlord filed two eviction cases while the application was pending. After eight months, Sommer finally received some rental assistance. But she has no idea how she’ll pay rent in October.  Sommer spends her days scouring the internet for cheaper apartments, but no one will rent to her because of her recent evictions.

Vichelle Sanders

Vichelle Sanders is a tenant in Las Vegas and a leader with the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. Vichelle worked at a non-profit right before the pandemic hit, but she didn’t qualify for unemployment when she was laid off. In June 2021 she applied for rental assistance, but she still hasn’t heard back. Vichelle can’t even find a working phone number to get in touch with the organization that was supposed to disperse the rental assistance money. With the eviction moratorium gone, Vichelle is sure it’s only a matter of days before the landlord files an eviction case.

Leslie Vaughn

Leslie Vaughn is a tenant in Kansas City, Missouri. Leslie’s hours were reduced starting in March 2020. She and her partner struggled to keep up rent payments. They were ultimately evicted, receiving a judgment for over $13,000. Leslie and her daughters have autoimmune diseases that have put additional pressure on their situation, as their lives are threatened by insecure housing. Leslie worked for a short time with a local agency dispersing rental assistance and saw up close the inefficiencies and barriers in the program’s design.

Awa Dolley

Awa Dolley is a tenant in Minneapolis, Minnesota and a leader of her building’s tenant union. For months Awa and her neighbors have been fighting to keep their homes. So far, not a single one of the two hundred tenants in her building have been approved for rental assistance. Every Wednesday Awa and her neighbors hold phonebanks to push city officials to disperse the rental assistance and put a real eviction moratorium in place.

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