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'I've lost many nights of sleep' | Protesters hold anti-eviction rally

Rally organizers of STL Housing Defense Collective said there are several points they want to hit home with local leaders before families lose theirs

ST. LOUIS — Dozens of people protested outside of St. Louis City Hall Tuesday afternoon to call on leaders to stop mass evictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rally organizers of STL Housing Defense Collective said there are several points they want to hit home with local leaders before families lose theirs.

According to its Facebook page, STL Housing Defense Collective exists to protect St. Lousians from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic from further housing insecurity, impending evictions, the unhoused and utility shut-offs. These are the people's demands.

They released the following demands:

  • 120-day extension for a moratorium on evictions and utility shutoffs
  • No CARES Act funding is allocated to policing or corrections
  • City of St. Louis shall not conduct any further displacement of encampments or settlements of the unhoused
  • City of St. Louis will spend CARES Act funding to create a rental assistance fund for families in St. Louis with school aged children
  • City of St. Louis will spend CARES Act funding to create a legal defense fund for St. Louisans facing evictions and institute a mandatory mediation process for tenants and landlords.

Myisha Johnson is someone who has dealt with the possibility of eviction.

“I’ve lost many nights of sleep,” she said. “I didn’t pay for my electricity and almost got disconnected because I chose to pay rent.”

“There are necessities that we need to meet on top of rent,” she said.

Nick Kasoff has been a landlord for 15 years in Ferguson. He has 16 tenants.

“My tenants know 100% that if they lose their job or have some difficulty I have their back,” he said.

“When tenants don’t pay their rent, it’s a great hardship for us,” he added. “I have everybody’s back, but everyone who is able to pay needs to pay because I can’t support everybody.”

The St. Louis Sheriff’s Department said it evicted five tenants on Tuesday and expects to evict three more on Wednesday with other planned evictions next week.

5 On Your Side asked St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson about the evictions.

She said the evictions are not a function of the executive branch of St. Louis City government.

“They are carried out with the authority of the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court and Sheriff Veron Betts, who's a duly elected official,” Krewson’s office said.

Krewson has allocated $5.4 million for rental mortgage assistance for its CARES Act legislation. Her office said it hopes it will pass the Board of Aldermen on Wednesday.

According to a press release, city leaders and residents will join Alfred Montgomery at the Civil Courts building Wednesday morning to call on Governor Mike Parson to follow the example of more than 30 other states and temporarily suspend evictions during COVID-19 pandemic.

Facing eviction? Contact the organzation to share your story at stlhousingdefense@gmail.com 

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