Who are we?
The Drive Down Rent (DDR) Platform is a committee made up of hardworking students dedicated to aiding their peers who are facing financial hardships regarding housing/leasing. As a part of the Undergraduate Students Association Council (USAC) Internal Vice President office, DDR aims to assist students in Westwood and the greater L.A. area that have been affected by the recent rise in rent caused by COVID-19 as well as other financial burdens related to housing. With a focus on implementing rent relief awards supported by crowdfunding, our goal is to offer relief to students to reduce this burden during moments of high unemployment, reduced pay, and more in order to provide access to affordable housing to students!
What’s the problem?
UCLA students are facing a crisis like never before with cost of living growing exponentially, and now exacerbated by COVID-19 prompting detrimental job loss, pay reductions, and evictions. UCLA is also located within one of the most expensive zip codes in the country, with the high costs of renting adding onto the student body’s financial burdens. In the Spring quarter, students received some financial support from the CARES Act but eligibility of funds was determined by students’ 2019-2020 FAFSA filing. The CARES Act failed to take into consideration students’ current financial situations, with widespread unemployment/reduction of income affecting students and their families. With no end in sight, swift action must be taken in order to ensure UCLA students have proper access to affordable living, food, and many other resources necessary to focus while distance learning.
The Drive Down Rent Platform from the Internal Vice President’s office surveyed the UCLA student body and of the 182 respondents found that COVID-19 affected a majority of students’ ability to pay rent, with most students and their families facing unemployment or income reduction. When surveyed, roughly one-third of students reported their inability to pay rent and roughly one-half of students had to move back home as a result of the pandemic.
From the data collected, COVID-19 not only drastically interrupted the living situations for many UCLA students but also exacerbated already strenuous finances for students due to spikes in unemployment and reduced income. Many students had also signed onto leases prior to the pandemic, with landlords unwilling to negotiate with students for rent reduction or lease cancellations following the pandemic and announcement on distance learning for the Fall quarter. Below is a testimonial from a student with their experience attempting to negotiate their lease:
"I have been searching every day for the past two months, looking for someone to take over my lease for the apartment. However, the prices at my apartment remain high, and I simply cannot afford to pay the full fee with COVID-19 impacts on my family’s income. I tried to reach out to the apartment complex in efforts to negotiate a discount or get out the lease but they are not accommodating whatsoever. It’s put a lot of stress on me, my wellbeing, and my family— especially because what has happened was not in my control. I wish the apartment complex would be more accommodating and take this into consideration, but unfortunately, they haven’t."
The Solution and Why it Matters
In an effort to provide direct assistance to students during these turbulent times, the Drive Down Rent Platform of the Internal Vice President office is proposing a Rent Relief Award funded by YOU the donor! With the help of donors like you, the Drive Down Rent platform hopes to provide housing insecure students with $250 awards to help alleviate their financial burdens. With a $10,000 goal, the Drive Down Rent platform hopes to provide relief to a minimum of 40 students.
With the hardships that have been brought on my COVID-19, including job loss and mental/emotional strains, student resources are more necessary than ever. These financial difficulties are taking away from students’ ability to adapt to this new learning environment, resulting in a diminished student experience. Instead of focusing on their schoolwork and student life experiences, many students have the added responsibility of dealing with such financial burdens. Through this Rent Relief Award, we hope to ease these burdens and allow students to return to some form of normalcy in terms of their student life. With the pandemic still affecting students and their family’s financial security, donations to our campaign can directly help financially insecure students who deserve the same student experience as financially secure students.
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