Tenants in the Time of COVID-19: Oral History Project Online Interview Process

Alicia Morales Perez (Urban Planning) in partnership with Anti-Eviction Mapping Project

The purpose of my fellowship was to document the lived experiences of tenants across Los Angeles during the time of COVID-19. Along with my co-fellow, Cindy Reyes, I used qualitative research methods and oral history methods to collect these stories. We conducted online and remote interviews with members of the Los Angeles Tenants Union. This work is a ‘political act’ (McElroy and Maharawal, 2017) that captures the complex stories of struggle and resistance. In line with the values and methodologies of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project-Los Angeles chapter, I used security specific technologies to conduct interviews, used multiple forms of consent, and asked interviewees how they envisioned their interview being used. Since we conducted a small number of interviews, it is difficult to deduct existing trends. However, based on what we do have, the tense relationship between landlords and tenants is ever present and it is further exacerbated by the pandemic. While my time at AEMP was finite, the work is constant and requires the collective labor of additional students and volunteers, AEMP members, and community partners to materialize the stories of tenants during this historical moment. We thank everyone who contributed their time to conduct an interview or to inform us of oral history processes.

In addition, my co-fellow, Cindy Reyes, and I created a Guide to Online Interviews to be used for future AEMP volunteers. This is a working and living document that will continue to see changes and additions as AEMP and tenants adapt to the changing social, political, and economic climate.