FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Date and Time: August 27, 2021
Congress approved approximately $50 billion to help people pay back rent, but in many states, money hasn't reached the vast majority of people in need. The decision by SCOTUS to overturn the eviction moratorium places thousands of Rhode Islanders at risk for eviction.
Dr. Muñoz stated, "RI has approximately $352M available for rent relief and related assistance programs. Rhode Island has dispersed less than $13M, according to RI Housing. By the end of September, Rhode Island may lose more than $100M, since the treasury can choose to take back unused funds.
The administration claims that Rhode Island is meeting "the need", but that "need" is based on definitions that limit what impact COVID-19 has had on an individual's state of health and finance. For instance, some individuals in areas of high infection rates are unable to stop working, despite the risks that they face as essential workers. Although the risks of hospitalization and death for some communities are higher than others, this argument as a cause for staying home and needing economic support, does not meet the criteria for rental relief assistance. The implied message for some is, risk life for rent, because help isn’t coming.
We can, and should be doing more. Now is the time to reduce barriers to access, and to support communities impacted by COVID-19, and by the economic consequences of local outbreaks. It is essential that we have greater oversight, and a full investigation into the processes and applied definitions, which are used to determine support for Rhode Islanders who are in need of rent relief.
We must do better! In Rhode Island, approximately 40,000 people are at risk for eviction this winter."