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A diverse, statewide coalition warns a massive wave of evictions, homelessness, illness, and even death will follow unless Wolf protects PA’s 1.58 million renter households
Today, a 55 member coalition, led by Make the Road Pennsylvania, sent a letter urging Governor Tom Wolf to extend Pennsylvania’s eviction moratorium indefinitely, before it expires on Friday, July 10. The coalition includes more than 50 racial justice, healthcare, immigrant rights, labor, renter advocacy, housing justice, and legal advocacy organizations and five elected officials, who said renewing the moratorium was necessary to prevent an avalanche of evictions and homelessness amid the COVID pandemic. The coalition demand comes just one day after 44 Democratic state legislators sent a letter urging the Governor to extend the moratorium to the end of 2020.
The coalition letter sent today reads, in part: “Housing is health care, and housing is a human right. In the middle of an unprecedented global pandemic, the ability to shelter and be safe at home is lifesaving, something that shouldn’t be reserved just for those wealthy enough to continue paying rent. As the statewide eviction moratorium is set to expire, thousands of poor and working class families are at risk of being left unhoused, especially Black and brown families who already face much higher mortality rates from COVID-19.” Read the full letter here.
Said Patty Torres, Organizing Director for Make the Road Pennsylvania:
“Pennsylvania faced a housing crisis before the pandemic, which is now worse amid a public health crisis and double-digit unemployment. We cannot build a strong economy or a strong state when people are in danger of being homeless. Governor Wolf has been a strong leader for our state throughout the pandemic, and we’re asking him to step up and lead again by extending the eviction moratorium indefinitely to keep Pennsylvanians safe, stable, and healthy in their homes.”
Said Xiomara, a Make the Road PA member who rents her apartment and asked that her last name not be included due to her immigration status:
“My only salvation is an indefinite eviction moratorium. My children are scared to even sleep at night, because they know that we haven’t been able to pay rent. They are afraid that someone will come and put us out in the street and we’ll become homeless in the middle of the night. Sometimes I don’t even have the food I need to feed my special needs kid, let alone feed my other child.”
In Pennsylvania, more than 1.58 million renters, or 32% of households, rent their homes. The wave of evictions would be especially devastating to poor communities already suffering in Pennsylvania’s affordable housing crisis. In Allentown and Reading, where 60% of households are renters, a third of renters pay more than half their income in rent, qualifying as “severely rent-burdened” according to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Nearly 2.8 million Pennsylvanians have sought unemployment benefits since mid-March, adding additional financial stress to families already overburdened by the high cost of housing.
Pennsylvania’s Rent Relief Program launched on Monday July 6th, though many renters are unaware of this program, unable to access an application in their language, and would not benefit from the program should evictions resume after the moratorium expires this Friday. The 55 letter signatories also urged Governor Wolf to issue a rent freeze and mortgage payment deferral for all Pennsylvania residents and landlords, as Washington, DC has already done.
Make the Road Pennsylvania is the largest Latinx organization in the state of Pennsylvania, dedicated to organizing the working class in Latinx communities, building power for justice.
Information provided to TVL by:
Make The Road PA