ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Congresswoman Cori Bush knows firsthand how traumatizing being forced out of a home can be.
“I’ve been evicted. I’ve been unhoused. I’ve been forced to live in my car with my two babies,” Rep. Bush said. “I know how destabilizing and violent an eviction can be.”
The newly elected congresswoman, who represents the City of St. Louis and part of St. Louis County, joined a news conference Monday morning with County Executive Sam Page calling on the county to put an end to evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Page said he will ask the St. Louis County Council to pass an emergency ordinance to temporarily halt evictions by fully implementing the CDC’s latest eviction moratorium.
Earlier this month, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed a declaration that evicting people from their homes during the pandemic could be detrimental to public health and the progress being made to slow the virus. The CDC then extended its national eviction moratorium through June 30, 2021.
Page and Rep. Bush echoed that message in their joint briefing Monday. Bush said forcing people out of their homes could set back the St. Louis area in the fight against COVID-19 as we’re making more progress in vaccinations.
“It is deadly, and it is dangerous,” Bush said of evictions during the pandemic. “St. Louis can do better, and we must do better.”
St. Louis County resumed evictions last week. St. Louis County Presiding Judge Michael Burton issued an order allowing them to resume, citing a downward trend in cases, an increase in vaccinations and availability of federal stimulus funds. Nearly 600 eviction orders have been on hold in the county since the pandemic began.
St. Louis County tenants and landlords struggling with bills during the pandemic can apply for help through a new program announced a couple weeks ago, which includes $29.7 million available in assistance.
Outside of that program, County Executive Page said more money will be set aside for housing and utility assistance once money from the American Rescue Plan starts arriving in the county.
“One of the priorities with the new federal funds coming into the county will be helping people stay in their homes with rental and utility assistance. But our ability to help those people doesn’t have to wait on the new federal funds. We can start right now,” Page said, referring to the action he hopes the county council will take this week.
St. Louis County residents needing help with rent can call 314-806-0910 or visit the Emergency Rental Assistance Program information page online.
Resources available during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- More rental, utility aid available to St. Louisans, mayor announces
- St. Louis County to offer rental assistance for those affected by pandemic
- Biden administration extends federal moratorium on evictions
- Federal low-income housing grant doubles in size this year
- Missouri governor signs $324M rent assistance bill