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Federal eviction protection ends, raising questions for renters

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 9:28 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippians could be facing eviction notices now that the national eviction moratorium has ended. That protection ended July 31.

Nearly $200 million has been allocated to Mississippi to help those families in need, but the program is being widely criticized for not moving fast enough.

“We have tenants who need rental assistance, and we have a lot of landlords. They need that money as well to continue to stay afloat,” said Meghan Elder, MAA Association Executive.

Housing advocates like the Mississippi Apartment Association say the millions allocated to the state to help residents keep a roof over their head need to be given to them sooner than later.

“I would like to see the message to be proactive rather than wait on us,” said Robert Ireland, MAA Chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee.

The Mississippi Home Corporation launched the emergency rental program back in March. Nearly $200 million is supposed to be distributed to help families. As of this week, about $11.6 million has been given out.

The MAA says more must be done.

“For us, the ask is ‘What can MAA do to get that money out?’” said Elder.

According to Mississippi Home Corporation leaders, they are making strides. So far, 30,000 people have applied for the rental assistance, 10,000 applications have been completed, and a little more than 3,000 applications have approved and paid.

“We are not trying to hold any of this money back, and we are not trying to be gatekeepers and saying some are more deserving, and some are not. I want every single Mississippian who qualifies for this program, meaning if they are 80% or less of the median income and their lives were somehow impacted by Covid, I want all of them to get the room paid under the program rules.

“If I could snap my fingers to make that happen, I would’ve done it,” said Scott Spivey, Executive Director Mississippi Home Corporation.

The MAA also believes another issue slowing down the flow of money is the complicated federal guidelines and document requirements associated with this program.

“Anything can be done to make the application process easier would help,” said Ireland.

MHC’s executive director had this response.

“We understand the process could be burdensome, especially when the hardest hit families don’t keep good records, so whenever possible we are substituting. If you don’t know where your application is in process, and you don’t know how to get started, contact us. We have all these people standing by taking calls all day long if we have to come to you, we will come to you.”

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