SACRAMENTO (KPIX) – As the coronavirus pandemic closes college campuses across the country, students – and their parents – are still having to pay rent for vacant homes, despite many of those property owners receiving pandemic aid.
Some landlords near campuses do not allow students to terminate their rental contracts and do not pass the assistance they receive on to their students.
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“Right now nobody cares about us students and it’s disappointing,” said Jaspreet Khatra, a Sacramento state student.
Khatra secured her lease at Element Student Living near Sacramento State University in December, and has been struggling to get out of the lease since June.
“There will be a lot of pressure on me and my family, considering that my father and I both have no income at the moment,” said Khatra.
She founded an organization and started a petition to fight back. More than 1,800 people have signed the petition urging the owner of Element to release students from their pre-pandemic leases.
Change.org is full of similar petitions from students across the country.
The company that operates Element Student Living has received a paycheck protection program loan to offset its financial losses due to COVID-19.
PPP data shows Element’s owner received between $ 350,000 and $ 1 million. Likewise, the owners of Academy 65 – another student residence near the state of Sacramento – received between $ 2 million and $ 5 million. At The Grad Apartments in San Jose, owners received between $ 1 million and $ 2 million in PPP loans.
“We are afraid and we are afraid of what is to come, you know, how is that going to affect us in the long run,” said student and The Grad resident Paola Villalobos.
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She is considering dropping out of San Jose State University to get a full-time job to pay for an apartment she doesn’t live in.
“Do I have to be a part-time student now?” said Villalobos. “I could, you know, make up for the money I have to pay.”
Students from The Grad are also getting organized, and their petition had nearly 1,500 signatures by Thursday afternoon.
While most students stay at home, others move in because they are not allowed to terminate their rental contracts. These students say things are not going well.
Students have complained to The Grad’s management that they feel unsafe during the ongoing health crisis. A student who had chosen to remain anonymous wrote in an email to management that there was “no social distancing” while moving in, along with “full elevators with more than 10 people”.
“Right now? We don’t feel well taken care of,” said Khatra. “We don’t feel that they attach any importance to our health at all.”
Khatra is asked to sign a waiver of liability in which she acknowledges that it is possible to get sick and that “she agrees to hold the owner harmless and the owner harmless from all claims related to physical or mental harm due to Covid to be released. 19. “
Khatra says she won’t sign it.
“I just feel like they don’t care about their residents,” she said. “They just want to make a living, and life in California is so expensive. For example, I cannot afford a vacant apartment solely for the benefit of a company that is already receiving financial support from the state. “
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The owners of The Grad, Element, and Academy 65 did not respond to our request for comments on this story.