Fears of an eviction crisis are growing amidst pandemic

Financial Hardships 6pm

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - The eviction crisis analysts keep warning about is becoming all-too-real for local families who cannot pay their rent. It’s expected to get much worse in the coming weeks and months ahead.

Providence House in Shreveport, a homeless family shelter, is already seeing an increase in clients and expects to be at capacity soon, according to executive director Verni Howard.

“We also knew the water spigot would be turned off. And, we have been waiting with bated breath, when will the faucet stop flowing, so we’ve been preparing,” said Howard.

Howard says they’ve already begun to see an increase in homeless families because of evictions.

She explained how their family shelter is no longer simply about food, clothing, and shelter but also education.

“Education and workforce development are the only tools that will break the homeless cycle permanently. And that’s what we’re focused on,” said Howard.

In fact, thanks to funds provided by the City of Shreveport, Providence House has roughly $45,000 in homeless prevention funds.

The money provides emergency assistance to prevent everything from keep utilities on to help with rent, for families that qualify. Howard cautions that money won’t last long and it’s first come, first serve.

Yet, Howard also told us there are so many unknowns right now that it’s very difficult for many families to make long term plans just yet.

“People are in a holding pattern, Jeff. And a lot of people just simply don’t know what’s going to happen. They don’t know what’s going to happen with their kids’ school. They don’t know what landlords will do or will not do,” said Howard.

Nationally, the picture looks potentially severe, with nearly one in five renters missing all or part of last month’s payment. That’s according to figures from the most recent survey by the U.S. Census Bureau.

It’s all part of a perfect storm of conditions coming together at about the same time.

There's the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already led to more than 52 million unemployment claims across the country since March.

Then, the federal moratorium on evictions is set to expire at the end of the month, while many local and state moratoriums have ended, or soon will.

That’s also at the very same time the extra $600 in weekly jobless benefits is set to expire, unless Congress steps in to extend the assistance.

At the soup kitchen in Shreveport known as Christian Service, it means one thing for sure, according to executive director Al Moore.

“I think it’s going to have a bigger impact on Christian Service because it’s going to be, more people are going to need meals,” said Moore.

Last month alone, Moore says they served 6,000 meals, which boils down to nearly 1,500 meals a week.

He said those figures are only expected to rise as benefit checks run out and eviction notices send more people to Christian Service, which is located just off Texas Avenue, south of downtown Shreveport.

“I think it’s going to go up to about 1,600 to 1,700. I just feel it because people are going to be running out of resources. They might have a few resources at the beginning of the month. But around the 10th or 11th, our numbers are going to go up,” said Moore.

Back at Providence House, Howard said her number one piece of advice is for renters to take action while they still have options.

That means talking with your landlord and ask to work out a payment plan, if possible.

Howard also cautions on what not to do and that is, “Wait until the 11th hour to seek help because that is often too late.”

With the Census survey finding more than 9 million renters in this country have no confidence in their ability to pay the rent next month, this story is just beginning.

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