A federal judge has ordered the Mexico City government to compensate tenants affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Through a press release, the Habitat International Coalition América Latina (HIC-AL), a global human rights NGO, shared this week that the authorities in Mexico City are obliged to apply measures guaranteeing housing in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the statement, a federal district judge ordered Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum to set out a policy that prevents and mitigates the social and economic effects of the pandemic on the city’s tenants.
The decision stems from an appeal pushed by lawyer Carla Luisa Escoffié Duarte regarding the case of a woman named María Luisa, who lost her job during the pandemic-induced economic crisis in 2020.
Unable to pay the rent, the landlord evicted Maria Luisa, along with her 80-year-old mother and young son, from the house where she had lived for 45 years.
On August 10, a Mexican court ruled in favor of Maria Luisa’s family, saying that Mexico City authorities had failed to take steps to protect citizens from the effects of the pandemic on access to housing.
As Ms. Escoffié, legal adviser to María Luisa, explained with the judge’s decision, the “omissions” of the Mexico City government during the pandemic are recognized as a violation of the right to housing themselves.
“It is a call to the governments of other states, a precedent that can help us understand the extent of government responsibility for housing in situations such as the pandemic or similar circumstances,” said Ms. Escoffié. at Aztec Reports.
The judge’s verdict quotes UN expert Leilani Farha, who in March 2020 urged governments “to take extraordinary measures to ensure the right to housing for all to protect against the pandemic”.
A request ignored by the Mexican authorities, according to the judge, since the request indicated that in Mexico, no level of government sought to prevent vulnerable people from becoming homeless.
According to the survey of the Effects of COVID-19 on the welfare of Mexican householdsin May 2020, at the height of the pandemic, 8.9 million people, or 15.5% of the working population, were unemployed.
In addition, 35% of people said their income had been reduced by 50% during the same period.
Economic conditions worsened by unforeseen health, lack of legislation and underlying inequalities in the housing market in Mexico led to the eviction of 15% of tenants from their homes in January 2022, some of them in violent conditions , according to the latest HIC-AL survey.
In addition, 32% of respondents said they had to move, while 55% said they had difficulty paying their rent.
Unlike other countries that have issued policies to suspend evictions for non-payment and freeze rent and overdue mortgage collections, Mexico’s efforts have been limited to welfare without any consideration for the tenants.
“In Mexico, we still don’t conceptualize this situation as a housing rights issue,” Ms. Escoffié said. “In Mexico we still believe that the right to housing is limited only to the preservation of a house that is already in your property, as if the right were limited to protecting the heritage of those who have already been able to buy a house and not the protection of tenants.