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CDC Extends Eviction Moratorium, St. Louis To Open Clinics For Housing Assistance

One of the topics of the 2018 Fair Housing Conference was on finding was to reduce the number of evictions in St. Louis.
David Kovaluk
St. Louis Public Radio
The CDC extended the federal ban on evictions on Tuesday. People who face evictions have until Oct. 3 to apply for rental assistance.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended the federal moratorium on evictionsthrough Oct. 3 for counties with high levels of community transmission of the coronavirus.

The federal extension comes after a previous moratorium expired on Saturday. The order notes that the rise in the delta variant of the coronavirus prompted the extension. If large numbers of people are evicted from their homes, that would likely exacerbate the public health crisis, CDC officials said.

U.S. Rep. Cori Bush, D-St. Louis County, with other members of Congress and housing advocates, slept on the steps of the U.S. Capitol starting Friday to urge President Joe Biden to extend the moratorium to help keep people in their homes during the pandemic.

The extension is a win for people who are months behind in rent, Bush said Tuesday at a press conference.

“It's our work as humans to end human suffering and to fight against any place where we see the possible perpetuation of it,” she said.

But Bush said the eviction moratorium will not help people pay their past-due rent. She said officials nationwide should release $46 billion in federal aid.

In St. Louis, Mayor Tishaura Jones is working with housing organizations to help distribute local funds to pay rent for people whose landlords are trying to evict them.

Jones announced Tuesday that city residents who face eviction and have not yet applied for housing aid can request assistance at pop-up rental aid clinics next week. The clinics aim to provide renters with assistance even if their landlord does not cooperate with the rental aid process.

The city has about $1.5 million to spend on rental clinics, legal services, bridge housing and emergency shelters for people who have been evicted.

Landlords in St. Louis filed over 3,000 eviction cases. City officials say the pop-up clinics will help make the rental aid application process easier for people who do not have alternative housing solutions.

“It's honestly scary. ... We want people to stay in their homes,” said Grace Kyung, the city’s senior strategic initiatives manager. “We want them to feel safe during this era of COVID.”

Horizon Housing Development Corp. will host a pop-up rental aid clinic next week. Residents must bring a pending eviction notice, a lease agreement, proof of income prior to the coronavirus pandemic and a financial statement showing a loss of income due to the pandemic.

Once the documentation is received and processed, case managers at the housing organization will attempt to contact the landlord three times to deliver rental payments. If the landlord is unresponsive, the organization will send a check made out to the landlord to the renter.

The pop-up clinics will help those who do not have access to technology or transportation, said Taiya Wright, office administrator for Horizon Housing Development Corp.

"We're trying to keep people off the streets,” she said. “So, I just really hope that people take advantage of this opportunity.”

Wright said the average rental aid payment is about $3,500, but the amount varies by case. Residents can receive up to 12 months of rental assistance and up to three months of upcoming rent payments.

The housing organization needs about a month to process applications for assistance, but Wright said if applicants bring in the necessary documents, their applications can be processed sooner.

“It's a challenging process for the clients. They have a lot of stuff that they have to provide in order to receive the assistance,” Wright said. “So if they are getting that one-on-one case management ... that's going to set the tenant up for success and really up their chances of being able to receive this assistance.”

The St. Louis Metropolitan Equal Housing and Opportunity Council will host a walk-in rental aid clinic at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park Aug. 20-21.

Follow Andrea on Twitter: @drebjournalist

Andrea covers race, identity & culture at St. Louis Public Radio.