American Civil Liberties Union urges State officials to prevent mass evictions amid COVID-19

By agency reporter
May 2, 2020

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and 20 ACLU state affiliates have sent letters to state officials across the country urging their offices to issue or expand statewide moratoria against evictions, utility shut-offs, and commit to preventing mass evictions after the moratoria end.

Across the nation, the COVID-19 pandemic has already resulted in widespread and devastating economic consequences, as the number of unemployment claims continues to climb. In the face of staggering unemployment numbers, millions of tenants face the imminent threat of losing their homes or access to utility service due to the inability to pay. The ACLU is calling for the prevention of mass evictions in the midst of this global COVID-19 public health crisis.

“As millions of people lose their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, renters are faced with the added threat of being put out of their homes or cut off from access to utilities during a global pandemic”, said Sandra Park, senior staff attorney at the ACLU. “Evictions and utility shut-offs will disproportionately harm communities of colour, and particularly, women of colour. All residents – regardless of their circumstances or background – should have access to safe and stable housing throughout the course of this ongoing public health crisis.”

Some state affiliates who have sent letters have been successful in attaining protections for tenants.

In the letter, the ACLU calls on state officials to issue or expand a comprehensive moratorium that will:

  • halt every stage of the eviction process
  • continue to prevent mass evictions during and after the pandemic
  • apply to all types of tenants and lease violation
  • prohibit the collection of late fees and retaliation against tenants who assert their rights under the moratorium
  • prohibit utility shut-offs and require restoration of previously disconnected service.

The ACLU has worked over the years to address unfair eviction screening policies, which disproportionately undermine housing opportunities for women of colour and will present a barrier if mass evictions take place.

* American Civil Liberties Union https://www.aclu.org/

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