Sam Levin Profile picture
13 Dec, 11 tweets, 5 min read
NEW: California is on track to allow mass evictions to begin during the worst phase of the pandemic so far. Millions are at risk, and many more will die of Covid if lawmakers don't pass new tenant protections.

A short thread on what's at stake ⬇️

theguardian.com/us-news/2020/d…
-More than 2 million households said they couldn't pay rent in November, and that # will increase with new shutdowns.

-Tenants owe an estimated $1.7 billion in unpaid rent, and California law currently says they are on the hook for all of it, which will be impossible for many.
Evictions mean more people will die. When other states lifted eviction moratoriums, it led to 433,700 additional Covid cases + 10,700 more fatalities, according to @LeifScience.

Given the scale of the crisis in CA, the fatal consequences will be catastrophic here.
Failure to expand tenant protections leads to more mass death. "This isn't theoretical" -@DavidChiu who is pushing extensions.

And the entire state will suffer as a result: “Allowing evictions to proceed increases the risk of Covid for everyone in the community" - @LeifScience
Even with protections in place, landlords are already pursuing evictions across CA. In Berkeley, Loa Niumeitolu has received multiple eviction notices even though she's protected by Berkeley, Alameda County + California laws.

"We just live in fear.”
Loa's landlord, Sullivan Management Company, rescinded the notices after tenants organized + formed @smc_tenants.

“We’re just trying to stay afloat" -Emily Stone, who also received notice. "Threatening people with homelessness if they don’t pay up right now doesn’t make sense"
After she lost work in March, Loa said she has tried to pay rent when she can, and has asked her landlords for relief. And @smc_tenants has tried to negotiate with the landlord.

“I haven’t paid rent, so I can actually go to the grocery store and buy the food we need.”
There are some proposed solutions. @DavidChiu has introduced two bills, one to extend existing state protections through December 2021, and another to provide broader rent relief. If those don't pass, state protections end Jan 31, and tenants will be stuck with massive debts.
Tenant groups want broad forgiveness. Renters who can't pay must have debts erased + small property owners need mortgage forgiveness, said @Leahfsw. The alternative is mass displacement + suffering: “It's the government’s responsibility to make sure society doesn’t collapse."
The eviction crisis will be catastrophic for children, notes @JanineNkosi of @FaithinValley. In Central Valley, unhoused families already have nowhere to go, especially when it's unsafe to even go to McDonalds or libraries during the day for basic internet access, due to Covid.
During Covid, housing functions as schools, sanctuaries + much more. In the Central Valley, an eviction tsunami would be deadly in so many ways

“Many people are one unexpected life event away from an eviction + everyone now is experiencing an unexpected life event" -@JanineNkosi

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More from @SamTLevin

15 Oct
NEW: I interviewed Jackie Lacey + George Gascón about their tight race for LA district attorney, arguably the most important criminal justice election in the US. There are huge differences in their beliefs on incarceration + safety.

Thread on my chats ⬇️

theguardian.com/us-news/2020/o…
LA has the largest jail system in the world + extremely high prison rates. I asked Lacey if the region jails too many people.

She said no, and warned that if she were a less punitive DA, LA would “deteriorate” with the “criminal community” + “predators” flocking to the region.
Lacey has fought for the right to continue prosecuting children under the age of 12, and has continued to try youth as adults. She said this was warranted for some crimes: "You can say, 'Oh you’re incarcerating children!' but that’s not the act of a child or the mind of a child."
Read 19 tweets
22 Sep
NEW: Kao Saelee worked as an incarcerated firefighter in California.

But when his release date came, the state partnered with ICE and transferred him to detention. He now faces deportation to Laos, a country his family fled when he was two years old.

theguardian.com/us-news/2020/s…
Kao, now 41, has been imprisoned since he was a teenager. Even though he completed his sentence and fought wildfires, @GavinNewsom + CDCR handed him over to ICE.

“I paid my debt to society, and I think I should have a chance to be with my family," Kao told me from ICE jail. Image
When his release date came on August 6, Kao's sister was waiting outside the prison to take him home for the first time in two decades. Instead, guards handed Kao over to a private security contractor for ICE who shackled his hands, waist and legs, put him in a van and drove off.
Read 17 tweets
16 Sep
NEW: In Oregon, there is now a confirmed Covid-19 outbreak linked to the evacuation of Coffee Creek prison in the fire zone. Two prisoners have tested positive + Dept of Corrections says they mixed with groups outside of their units during evacuation to Deer Creek, another prison
Here’s part of DOC statement to @TaraHerivel and other attorneys. “Female AIC” refers to an incarcerated woman who tested positive. State is now expediting return of evacuated prisoners to Coffee Creek. Delays in tests results have made this situation more complicated, DOC says. Image
DOC says it appears the two Covid+ prisoners didn’t mix with the population at Deer Ridge, the prison where evacuees were placed. There is still fear about a possible mass outbreak. The fire threat is not over. For thousands of impacted families, this is an unimaginable nightmare
Read 7 tweets
15 Sep
I spoke with men incarcerated at Oregon State Penitentiary, who are stuck in overcrowded facilities in the fire zone + have repeatedly been pepper sprayed. They're begging for help.

Here's a short thread with audio from my prison calls, shared with their permission.

LISTEN ⬇️
Parker, 23: "Pepper spray got on everyone, everyone was coughing and sneezing. I couldn't even take a drink of my water. There was so much in the air. I still have lasting effects. I was scared. I didn't think they would put us in that situation. DOC is supposed to protect us."
John, 44: "It's smoky in here. It's horrible in here. Some of these inmates are elderly, some have heart problems + respiratory problems. This is no place for them. What you're brewing is a perfect storm for violence and pandemonium. How do you plan on protecting these inmates?"
Read 12 tweets
15 Sep
NEW: Oregon prison guards have repeatedly pepper sprayed evacuated prisoners who are trapped in overcrowded facilities and already sick from smoke.

I spoke to folks inside who were sprayed and are struggling to breathe...

theguardian.com/us-news/2020/s…
As fires approached, Oregon crowded four prison populations into one facility, and violence and fights immediately broke out.

The prison responded by repeatedly deploying pepper spray.

"I couldn’t breathe. When I got sprayed, I had to stick my face into a sink to rinse it off”
“The pepper spray got on everyone. Everyone was coughing and sneezing. There was just so much in the air.”

“My eyes and lungs are still burning and soot is still floating all inside the prison."

“These officers just pull out their cans of spray and start spraying everywhere."
Read 11 tweets
10 Sep
NEW: Oregon's fires have wreaked havoc on the state’s incarcerated population, with thousands now packed into a single overcrowded prison that was already a major Covid-19 hotspot.

I spoke to families + attorneys about the worsening catastrophe:

theguardian.com/us-news/2020/s…
Some key points:

-1,450 evacuees were moved into the Oregon State Penitentiary (OSP), which already had more than 2,000 prisoners + has had 143 Covid cases.

-Evacuees are sleeping on the floor and on emergency beds throughout OSP in indoor facilities not used for housing.
-Problems are already escalating, with families reporting people packed into makeshift sleeping quarters, some struggling to breathe due to smoke, prisoners facing long waits for food, fights breaking out.

-Populations are reportedly mixing for meals + lines to make phone calls.
Read 9 tweets

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