Some Mississippi tenants now homeless after eviction moratorium ends

Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 9:29 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Many Mississippians are homeless Tuesday because they can’t pay their rent and the eviction moratorium has ended - an eviction crisis that is expected to get worse.

Jennifer Johnson was shocked and saddened when she came home Monday and found an eviction letter on her door. But some landlords say renters are not the only ones hurting in this pandemic.

They are also taking a big hit.

As Johnson read the eviction letter she recently received from Crescent Corner Apartments, she admits it is heartbreaking. “Because it’s my home and they are not willing to just work with us and be patient like we are.”

Johnson says when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, her finances also took a big hit. And she could never recover.

“You either go to work sometimes or most of the days you wouldn’t work. Some of the people at my job contracted Covid. My God, it is just crazy.”

Johnson, like many others, applied for the Rental Assistance for Mississippians Program (RAMP) that provides up to 15 months of rental and utility assistance. The program has been widely criticized for not distributing the nearly $200 million faster to residents.

She is now homeless as she waits for help. “It is not them out in the cold, it is us. They look at it as them losing money, but we are losing our home, our place to live.”

Some landlords who are working with renters have fallen on hard times as well. James Haynes rents out a home in Jackson and says his tenant owes him thousands of dollars. “She had a loss of wages and got pregnant and it was a difficult time for her, but it was a difficult time for me also.”

Haynes is now paying two mortgages and having to dip into his savings account that is running out. He believes landlords should also get more help.

“I have a resident who has been 14 months behind and we are talking about a pretty good chunk of money. I need that back. Fourteen months is not a drop in the bucket, and you can’t say I can eat that cost. No, we have to do something to get that money back.”

Belhaven Residential had this to say about the Johnson’s eviction at Cresent Corner Apartment:

We are deeply compassionate about each tenant we serve at Belhaven Residential. We have worked tirelessly to promote and engage our tenants in the RAMP program. Unfortunately, we are at the mercy of the RAMP program to approve and distribute funds on behalf of our tenants and that process has been a slow one. Our business has suffered greatly from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. With the moratorium lifted, we are exercising our right to secure our property for tenants who are not approved for rental assistance.

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