Some landlords are taking advantage of the coronavirus outbreak, soliciting sexual favors in lieu of rent payments from economically vulnerable tenants, according to advocates.
Khara Jabola-Carolus, executive director of the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women, said her office has received more reports of landlords sexually harassing their tenants in the last two weeks than it had in the two years since she started working there, including cases of landlords offering to move in with tenants and sending sexually explicit photos to them after they communicated concerns about paying April rent, NBC News reports.
While the number of cases wasn't necessarily astronomical — the commission received 10 reports about nine landlords — Jabola-Carolus said they were especially notable given such cases go "vastly underreported."
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Around 5 million more people filed first-time unemployment claims last week, bringing the total of unemployed Americans to nearly 22 million. While some states have enacted eviction and rent moratoriums, experts caution that these policies may not be enough to keep low- and middle- income renters in their homes. Only 69 percent of apartment tenants had paid their monthly rent by April 5, down from 81 percent the previous month, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council.
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