LOS ANGELES — Writers Guild of America members on the picket line are digging into their savings to get by, as the strike goes well past 100 days.
One of those striking members is Yousif Nash, a writer’s assistant with rent on his mind. He has been on the picketing line in front of several television studios since the first day. Without being able to work, he is relying on WGA grants and the food handed out at picket lines.
“A lot of times, I just show up and grab whatever leftovers they have and that is my lunch and dinner for the day,” Nash said.
Nash applied for unemployment but said rent is so high in Burbank that it’s not enough.
“My rent used to cost me half of my paycheck as a writer’s assistant, and now, with unemployment, it does not cover rent at all,” Nash said.
He is currently paying $2,500 in rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Burbank and adds his rent has already increased by 10% twice in the past two years.
“The only reason why my apartment complex is increasing by 10% is because that is the law. I am absolutely positive if there was no rent control, they would have gone past 10%,” Nash said.
Nash found that this law limits the rent hikes by 10% when he attended a virtual information session that the Burbank Tenants Union put on for WGA members.
The purpose of the session was to share all the resources and information they have, according to union member Jo Pimienta.
They are also helping those striking members renting outside of Burbank by connecting them with tenant unions near them.
While only some of those striking are seeking additional help, many are also working side hustles to make rent.
Stephanie Streisand is one of those members who has also been picketing from the start.
“We are actually not fighting to be paid more. We are fighting to be paid how we used to be paid,” Streisand said.
Streisand lives in North Hollywood and said she pays $2,895.00 in rent for a one-bedroom apartment. She is now teaching virtual writing courses at the Pack Theatre to hold her over.
“The business used to be you worked on two or three seasons of a television show and you could buy a house. I am not talking about a mansion, just a house,” Streisand said. “I have written on nine seasons of television and right now, I am two months away from being flat broke.”
Nash is on a similar boat.
“I think I have about one month left in my savings,” Nash added.
He is now considering moving out and figuring out his living situation until the strike ends and he can return to work.