“Our Latino community has been and always will be very resilient, but the burden on them keeps getting heavier,” according to Patricia Galindo, director of Family Services at La Luz Center. “Families are not only having to deal with being the topic of negative discussion regarding immigration, as America’s history of scapegoating continues, but now, after the fires, they also are having to pay much higher rents which impact our families very much.”
Susan Shaw, executive director of North Bay Organizing Project, a countywide organization that oversees the Rapid Response Network for observing potential ICE actions, had this to say: “The Latino community is responding to the assaults from Washington with amazing resilience, grace and kindness in the face of terror and overwhelming fear.”
About housing, Galindo acknowledges that wages are going up to $15 and $18 an hour for some, but says that $13 an hour is still the most common wage. Most rentals cost $1,800 to $2,400 monthly before utilities. And utilities have risen. Galindo said that specifically PG&E bills have doubled over two years ago. Often families have to move because the landlord claims he is making upgrades, and then charges a much higher rent.
Galindo talked about the many complications for a family trying to find housing. “If a family has to move out of an apartment or a house nowadays, they are looking at a $5,000 deposit plus the rent or even more.” Additionally, local rental agencies charge $35 or $40 dollars to run credit checks per adult applying. With many in the Latino community not having credit, that drives up the amount a landlord charges them in deposit to move in.
North Bay Organizing Project is beginning the work of organizing tenants in the Springs. There will be a Tenant’s Rights workshop on October 4 at 6 p.m. at El Verano School.
Galindo reaffirmed her view that lack of housing and the high cost of it are the most pressing needs of the Latino community in the Valley, but she pointed out the new burden from Washington is in regard to the Public Charge. Now that Public Charge has become a political issue which may affect people’s application for a permanent resident visa, parents have to reconsider if they should continue to receive Medi-Cal or CalFresh, or even apply in the first place. Galindo remarked, “Unenrolling themselves or their children out of fear when they are in need of food or medical attention won’t just hinder them financially, but will impact their health.”
La Luz will offer a workshop on this topic in October.
Photo collage by Michael Acker