Historic Nashville Courthouse. (Photo: John Partipilo)
The federal moratorium on evictions ends Saturday, and Nashville community leaders have already warned of an incoming flood of evictions if the moratorium isn’t extended.
On Thursday, Councilmember Delishia Porterfield hosted a press conference attended by several other Metro council members and community leaders, urging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to extend the federal moratorium past the July 31 deadline.
“As we know, COVID has been hard on everyone. Because many people in our community lost their jobs, many people are in a tough financial situation right now,” said Porterfield. “Our economy has been impacted, but most of all, what we’re seeing are individuals who are at risk of losing their housing because of the financial implications of COVID.”
Rising COVID-19 cases, vaccine disparities and landlord disputes are among the many issues still affecting housing in Nashville. Reports of widespread evictions ahead of the moratorium attracted local and national attention among housing advocates.
In South Nashville, tenants at Mosaic Apartments said they were being ousted from their homes despite many making timely rent payments. The tenants, mostly immigrants, sought help from community leaders, including Worker’s DIgnity director Cecilia Prado and Metro Councilmember Russ Bradford. They believed they were pushed out to make way for new housing developments.
“The same issues we were experiencing here in Nashville are also happening across the country, especially to Black and brown people,” said Odessa Kelly, executive director of Stand Up Nashville. Kelly is also running for Congress in the 2022 Democratic primary against Rep. Jim Cooper.
Many factors are completely out of people’s control, said speakers at the Thursday event.
“We are in a global pandemic, so please don’t consider this a personal failure if you can’t make your rent,” said Ingrid McIntyre, a housing-justice advocate and clergy member at Wesley Theological Seminary.
Rental assistance is still available through the Metro Action Commission (MAC), although the department has faced criticism from housing advocates. Only $11 million of $58 million from CARES Act and federal funds has been handed out to 1,426 applicants. $30 million remains available, and MAC is hosting two workshops on July 31 at Hadley Park Community Center and Madison Community Center.
Poterfield stressed that Metro Nashville officials are doing everything they can to provide rent relief, including intervening in disputes between landlords and tenants.
“I’ve heard that in some cases, the landlords are not taking the money because they are looking for a reason to evict tenants, and we know that is not a fair practice,” said Porterfield. “If you are experiencing that where your landlord is not accepting the payment, please work with Metro Action Commission. We don’t want to see anyone displaced during this process.”
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