(CBS SF) – California residents, activists, advocates and legislators called on Gov. Gavin Newsom to cancel rent and mortgage payments during the coronavirus outbreak to save low-income and working class individuals and families from homelessness.

During a teleconferenced town hall meeting Monday afternoon, Newsom was called on to cancel the rents by several advocacy organizations throughout the state including Tenants Together, Housing Now!, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Action, Housing Is A Human Right, PICO California and the Partnership for Working Families.

“The reality of it is people matter over profit, and today is a day to demonstrate that,” Hayward City Councilwoman Aisha Wahab said. “I don’t want to repeat the situation from the Great Recession. The banks kept all the homes and the people were impacted at the time.”

Wahab was one of several speakers who advocated on behalf of tenants and homeowners who have either already missed home payments or will soon miss one due to income loss because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“We were already struggling before COVID-19 and we’re struggling now,” said Maria Guadalupe “Lupe” Arreola, executive director for Tenants Together.

Organizers of the virtual town hall called for more than just eviction moratoriums. They asked the governor to take a step further and outright forgive rent and mortgage payments.

Vannessa Bunes, a member of ACCE Action in Oakland, said federal stimulus checks and eviction moratoriums will not be enough for seniors, who are most at risk of contracting and dying from COVID-19.

“Getting a bill four down the road for April, May, June and July would be more than $10,000,” Bunes said. “My husband and I are senior citizens. We have more life behind us than ahead of us, so that kind of debt would throw us into homelessness.”

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