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News Too Real 8-27-21 Part 1: Will the eviction moratorium save renters and landlords?

By ONME Newswire

In this episode of News Too Real Part 1: Will the eviction moratorium save renters and landlords?, producer host, Julia Dudley Najieb reviews the recent challenges that Black and Brown renters are facing nationwide and California-wide in getting COVID-19 rental relief before looming deadlines.

Millions of U.S. families fell behind on their rent amid the COVID-19 pandemic and record levels of unemployment. The Centers for Disease Control extended a federal moratorium on evictions until October 3 -- this decision was recently overturned by the Supreme Court who found it unlawful for the CDC to validate an extension which can only be voted in my Congress. President Joe Biden's Administration national eviction moratorium expired on July 31.

The $47 billion in federal aid available to renters and small landlords has been stalled in many states, where different county and city jurisdictions have been overwhelmed in processing applications; meanwhile, communities of color are suffering from the basic barriers to accessing the rental aid, such us lack of internet access to download the rental relief paperwork or needing help to fill out the lengthy paperwork.

The impact of evictions on families of color is affecting the mental stability and physical health of children, parents and single renters; the experts point out the clear evidence of the disproportionately higher rate of evictions for people of color.

Juan Pablo Garnham is a Chilean journalist interested in cities, public policy, and immigrant communities. In his previous work as the Urban Affairs reporter for The Texas Tribune, Juan Pablo reported on the main challenges of Texas' largest metro areas — Houston, Austin, San Antonio, El Paso and Dallas-Fort Worth, where he is based. Juan Pablo has also worked as senior producer for the podcast In The Thick, editor of CityLab Latino, and City Hall reporter for El Diario in New York. In Chile, he wrote for some of the country's most important magazines and newspapers. Juan Pablo brings his expertise as a bilingual and multimedia journalist to his position as the Audience and Community Engagement Editor for the Eviction Lab.

For those seeking rental assistance, Garnhm reminded people that they have to declare their hardship is directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic, even if their landlord does not provide them with such paperwork.

"You had to declare certain things to receive this protection, said Garnham. "For example, that you have attempted to obtain rental assistance, that your income is under a certain limits, that you could not pay for rent due to loss of income, work hours or other issues, and that you would be come homeless if evicted."

Garnham also said that California, New Jersey, New York and Washington D.C. have their own moratoriums which is usually stronger than the national moratorium.

In reviewing the Eviction Lab data from 2020, Garnham said California is missing its latest eviction court filings on their court websites; although public information, it is currently not available. In reviewing the eviction filing, Garnham also said that Black women are over-represented in eviction filings pre-pandemic and post pandemic.

Dr. Shawnita Sealy-Jefferson is a social epidemiologist whose primary research seeks action to combat manifestations of structural racism that limit the human rights of Black families and communities. Dr. Sealy-Jefferson is the Founder, Director, and Principal Investigator of the Social Epidemiology to Eliminate Disparities (SEED) Lab. The mission of the SEED Lab is to conduct high quality epidemiologic research to find solutions to the disproportionate burden of infant mortality among Black women. Specifically, Dr. Sealy-Jefferson’s scholar-activism draws from the Reproductive Justice Framework. The goal of her scholarship is to inform future intervention studies, policy change, and social activism.

Dr. Sealy-Jefferson pointed out that the housing crisis among Black and Brown communities has been exacerbated by COVID-19 pandemic, as they have become more vulnerable to the structural racism.

"It has been said by sociologists that evictions is to Black women what mass incarcerations is to Black men," said Dr. Sealy-Jefferson.

Dr. Sealy-Jefferson said there has been a cut in federal funding nationwide for low-income housing, and one in four Black and Brown families spend at least 70% of their income on utilities and rent.

"...One and four low-income residents who qualityfy for home affordable housing assistance are actually receiving it... Having a history of evictions makes families ineligible for affordable housing options."

Due to the trauma of the eviction experience, families are more vulnerable to illness, depression and even suicide. Also, children are set up to fail because they have to miss school because their family has to keep moving or sleeping on the streets.

According to Dr. Sealy-Jefferson, there is strong evidence that some of these evictions are due to anti-Black racism and discrimination against families, not eviction-warranting behavior, like not paying rent.

"People have been evicted in retaliation for reporting their slum landlords, " said Dr. Sealy-Jefferson. "Or for their children testing positive for lead poising which often results in inspections and calls for abatement by family and social services, and financial consequences for landlords. ...Families have been evicted for bogus accusation of damage to the rental property, often damage that should be considered normal wear and tear when children are in the home."

She also said that having a criminal record prevents a person from getting affordable housing--affecting Black and Brown formerly incarcerated.

In Part 2, Francisco Dueñas will review the challenges California tenants are facing with landlords and with access to the rent relief funds.

Duenas is the executive director for Housing Now!, a California, statewide housing justice advocacy coalition. He was previously the director of Housing Campaigns for the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE).

Prior to joining ACCE, Duenas was the director of Diversity and Inclusion for Lambda Legal, a national LGBT Impact litigation organization. He has also served on the Los Angeles City Human Relations Commission.



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