How tenants are evicted despite $ 50 million in government funds to stop it

Susie Mitchell (left) and her mother, Shirley, sit for a portrait in their living room of their apartment in Whitehaven. Women are at risk of eviction unless their application for emergency rental assistance assistance is accepted. Photo by Andrea Morales for MLK50

A national survey on housing instability found that in July, at least 1 in 5 households were behind on their rent in 250 counties. Shelby County was one.

This is the bad news. But there was good news: The federal government gave the city of Memphis and Shelby County more than $ 50 million to pay off rent to tenants, which could prevent thousands of families from being evicted – thus. than the ruin of credit and the emotional upheavals that inevitably follow.

And yet, there is more bad news: because of the way the federal emergency rent assistance program is structured and the choices local administrators have made (were forced to make?), L money is not reaching those who need it most quickly enough. Families fall through the cracks.

“When you’re dealing with this volume (of evictions) it’s soul crushing,” said Kayla Billingsley, the young lawyer who runs this program.

Journalist Jacob Steimer has spent a lot of time in court, observing how the eviction process works (or doesn’t). Program administrators know what changes they would make to get more if they could. And they know exactly who could help them. Please take the time to read Jacob’s story.

This story is brought to you by MLK50: Justice through journalism, a nonprofit newsroom focused on poverty, power, and politics in Memphis. Support independent journalism by making a tax deductible donation today. MLK50 is also supported by these generous donors.

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About Christopher Easley

Christopher Easley

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