June 22, 2018

Viveka’s Story

When I was 19, I became disabled from living in a moldy apartment. I didn’t complain or break my lease because I didn’t want to be branded a problem tenant. It seemed impossible to find anywhere affordable near my university. I had no idea I could fight for my rights as a tenant. So I stayed until my body completely broke down.

I moved here in 2015 to heal. The ocean, trees and community have been wonderful but nothing in my life has made me feel as powerless as searching for housing in Santa Cruz. Landlords rarely or never called me back if I disclosed my disability. Property managers kept my deposit when I had to leave apartments that made me ill due to mold or chemicals. A variety of ‘housing providers’ tried to get me to sell my body. That’s what happens in a market like this when everything is so expensive, you have no bargaining power as a tenant. I moved to New Mexico for a year because I couldn’t keep wondering where I would sleep at the end of a day.

I promised myself that when I was healthy enough, I would fight for rent control. Today I’m very lucky to be able to do that.

I support rent control because I never want to be that powerless again. I don’t want anyone to have to be that powerless. Alone there is very little any of us can do about this situation. But together, we are powerful.”

-Viveka, 23