During the pandemic, a new study found that individuals within protected classes under the Fair Housing Act including communities of color, women-led households and families with children, are impacted at higher rates than others.
The Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council reported that even though moratoriums have left many people unable to pay rent in their homes, some landlords have continued to make judgments and file evictions.
Marissa Cohen, education coordinator for the Council, noted that when an eviction filing is indicated on someone's record, it can negatively affect their future housing opportunities.
"We already have these people within a protected class that has been historically disadvantaged when it comes to accessing quality housing options," Cohen explained. "And so now on top of that, we have eviction filings that act as a red stain on someone's record that will not go away,” said Cohen.
In the St. Louis area more than 5,000 evictions were filed since March 2020. The report showed the same communities that faced the most, were also hit the hardest by the 2008 financial crisis, and historically faced redlining, the practice that kept Black, brown and Indigenous residents from getting home loans and homeowners insurance in certain neighborhoods.
The federal government, the city and county have all had moratoriums in place during the pandemic, but legal challenges and shifting expiration dates have left many unsure of the status.
TJ Pearson, staff attorney for the Council, warned an increase of evictions may be carried out once federal and local moratoriums expire, explaining they need to be extended and strengthened, and more funds must be allocated for rental assistance.
"The rental assistance and the eviction moratoriums go hand in hand," Pearson asserted. "They have to work in tandem, or else you can have people being evicted while they're in the process of getting rental assistance,” said Pearson.
The report recommended policymakers protect tenants who faced evictions during the pandemic by keeping it off their records, and also requested tenants get more legal services and enhanced case-reporting systems that can help collect and analyze data on eviction trends.