Tsunami of Evictions Projected; Our Immediate Advocacy Is Crucially Important

It is no surprise to anyone I interact with, but I really love data. In college, I had a professor thank me for always coming back to an evidence base when making policy recommendations, a tendency which has served me well at Empower Missouri. I enjoy dissecting data and holding on to it, conceptualizing it in the lives of the people around me. This week I received so much troubling data that I, for the first time, had to step away from my desk and compose myself.

On a National Low Income Housing Coalition call on Monday, Stout presented this data. (Stout is a global advisory firm, consulting on investment banking and other business decisions.) It paints a really concerning picture of our nation in our new “COVID-normal.” Through collecting quantitative and qualitative data, Stout estimates over half of our residents with the lowest incomes will face eviction in the coming months.

In Missouri, as many as 304,000 of our neighbors are currently unable to pay rent and at risk of eviction. Eviction ruins lives. It is extremely difficult to self-stabilize after an eviction, and families often end up moving to new communities, changing schools, sometimes even losing their jobs in the process. This is unacceptable any time; it should be unthinkable to allow devastation at this magnitude during a global pandemic.

Our neighbors desperately need help. This week Empower Missouri and the Coalition on Human Needs co-released a report on the toll of the pandemic on access to life’s basics. Forty-three percent of Missouri households report a loss of income due to COVID-19. Eighteen percent of those families report not having enough to eat in the last week, and 22% were unable to pay rent in June. Over 1,100 Missouri residents have died from the virus, and so many more are suffering with these untenable economic realities.

Further, the novel coronavirus is especially impacting People of Color, especially the Black community. Black residents in St Louis are more than four times as likely to test positive for the virus, and a disproportionate number of deaths in Missouri are lost Black lives. Workers of Color are more likely to be employed at hospitality and restaurant jobs with low wages, the type that are less likely to return after the pandemic. Black families in Missouri are in trouble. This Stout graph shows they feel less and less secure in their ability to pay their rent in the coming months.

Empower Missouri has been urging our network to contact Senators Blunt and Hawley. Vital nutrition and housing supports must be included in the next round of federal relief. The data is clear- we cannot let up. Our federal delegation must hear from you. Take action now.

In solidarity,

Sarah Owsley
Manager of Public Policy & Organizing

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