In Mississippi, eviction bans without rental assistance are ‘just kicking a can down the road’

September 28, 2020

For most of her adult life, Shalonda Banks lived with a roommate, family member or partner. After years of working two jobs that paid $8 an hour, at 32 years old, she felt confident enough to move with her 9-year-old daughter into an apartment of their own.

It lasted less than six months – the length of the pandemic in the United States so far. After falling behind on her rent, Banks woke up to an eviction notice on her door.

“That’s half of my income,” she said. “I didn’t go back to sleep that night. I barely even eat. I haven’t been this stressed being a single parent. … This is putting my child in jeopardy.”

Across the nation, experts have been sounding the alarm on the rapid increase of evictions they say are sure to come. In March, Congress passed the $2 trillion CARES Act, a relief package that sent a $1,200 stimulus check to qualifying households. 

But rental assistance advocates argue that with the rapid rate of covid-related unemployment, that single payment wasn’t enough to help everyday Americans avoid evictions. Without rental assistance, they say, moratoriums may be a moot point, especially if tenants don’t know they exist, leaving them vulnerable to a judge’s discretion should the case make it to eviction court.

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