During the pandemic, a new study found that individuals within classes protected under the Fair Housing Act including communities of color, female-headed households and families with children, are affected at higher rates than others.
St. Louis Metropolitan Council for Equal Housing and Opportunity reported that although the moratoriums prevented many people from paying the rent on their homes, some landlords continued to pass judgments and ask for evictions.
Marissa Cohen, Education Coordinator for the Council, noted that when an eviction request is put on a person’s file, it can negatively affect their future housing opportunities.
“We already have these people in a protected class that has historically been disadvantaged when it comes to accessing quality housing,” Cohen explained. “And now, on top of that, we have eviction records that act like a red stain on someone’s record that won’t go away,” Cohen said.
In the Saint-Louis region, more than 5,000 evictions have been filed since March 2020. The report showed that the same communities that were most faced, were also the hardest hit by the 2008 financial crisis, and historically faced with redlining, the practice that has kept Black, Brown, and Native residents from obtaining home loans and home insurance in certain neighborhoods.
The federal government, city, and county all have moratoria in place during the pandemic, but legal challenges and changing expiration dates have left many unsure of status.
Council attorney TJ Pearson warned that an increase in evictions could be made once federal and local moratoria expire, explaining that they must be extended and tightened, and that more funds must be allocated to aid to the rent.
“Rent assistance and eviction moratoria go hand in hand,” Pearson said. “They have to work in tandem or you can have people evicted while they are in the process of getting rent assistance,” Pearson said.
The report recommended that policymakers protect tenants who faced evictions during the pandemic by keeping them out of their records, and also called on tenants to get more legal services and improved case reporting systems. who can help collect and analyze data on eviction trends.