Rev. Wes Helm in DMN: We can’t let the coronavirus pandemic trigger a housing crisis

Should the coronavirus pandemic create a housing crisis?

As the virus grinds on, its side effects are becoming more dangerous and pronounced. With furloughs becoming permanent layoffs, businesses and day care providers shutting down for good, and emergency relief efforts running out, Americans are facing greater insecurity in basic needs.

Earlier this month, more than 60 Dallas-area religious leaders (including me) signed a letter to Judge D’Metria Benson and the county justices of the peace appealing to them to extend the local moratorium on eviction hearings. We asked them to go beyond the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by extending the protections to all our neighbors, including immigrant families who may not have been able to apply for previous assistance. …

State and local orders lapsed last month. But even the remaining measures have limits, as the Rev. Wes Helm, an organizer with the nonpartisan advocacy group Faith in Texas, explained to me. Eviction notices could still be filed and rent and late fees accrued, and the CDC order imposes requirements that exclude some undocumented people and potentially legal immigrants seeking permanent residence. “We need protections in place right now,” Helm told me, “before we start putting lots of people on the street.” This is the concern that led faith leaders to draft and organize a letter to county court officials. “Many are on board” with continuing the moratorium, according to Helm, “and some are not.”

… During our conversation, Helm of Faith in Texas acknowledged that the moratoriums are a short-term measure. “Eviction moratoriums buy us time and keep people off the streets, but we need to use that time to find long-term solutions.”

Excerpted from The Dallas Morning News. Read the full article here.

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