GR advocates push for extension of national eviction ban

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The national eviction ban is set to expire at the end of the year unless Congress can pass a deal to extend COVID-19 relief.

That means as things stand now, landlords can legally evict their tenants who can’t pay starting Jan. 1.

With so many still struggling to catch up and keep up during the pandemic and coronavirus mitigation restrictions keeping some in Michigan off the job, many are calling on lawmakers to extend the moratorium on evictions.

“No matter what the situation is, I’m just blessed to turn my key and come here and just, I’m just thankful,” Jamela Cole said.

Cole hasn’t always had a place to call home. She was already struggling before the pandemic hit and when she lost her job as a waitress, she also lost her home.

“That like basically had stopped my income,” she said. “I was already in a housing crisis.”

Cole was evicted before the ban was in place, but with help from Family Promise of Grand Rapids, which works with those struggling to pay rent, she now has somewhere to live.

“They gave me a peace of mind where I was just able to focus on the main thing and not worry about where I’m going to sleep at, how I’m going to eat, or anything like that,” Cole said.

A lot of families got to stay in their home because of the ban. Kate O’Keefe, the director of development for Family Promise, says lifting it at the end of the year will mean more people out of their home — and her organization is at capacity.

“If those get lifted, we’re preparing for a wave of families who are really going to be in a hard spot come Jan. 1,” O’Keefe said.

This is why she says it’s so crucial to extend the ban while people work to get back on their feet.

“We are advocating as hard as possible for this eviction moratorium to stay in place and for the unemployment benefits to be extended. They are helping it does make a difference,” O’Keefe said.

It’s a cause Cole says is worth fighting for.

“We do need help. We need help. I’m not getting no money from my job. I’m trying to stay safe, so like work with us as long as we’re working with you,” Cole said.

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