Evictions hurt….they take homes away, they are costly for landlords, they impact our community in direct and subtle ways. Fear of eviction is engulfing many in our community; fear of homelessness for those who have never experienced it is becoming a reality to face as the CDC moratorium on evictions expires July 31 while the effects of the pandemic recede for some but not for all.
In August of 2020, the Catholic Action Center gathered a team of volunteers to assist renters in finding the resources for rental assistance as the pandemic raged with all its suffering, financially impacting our most economically challenged. Our Eviction Prevention Team has heard the stories and worked to connect over 3,200 households struggling to keep their homes. Those who had never sought government assistance learned patience and humility in dealing with challenging systems in place. Our fellow citizens with health and mental health barriers needed extra support to navigate the systems. Those who saw the moratorium as a pass to not pay rent were the minority but part of the picture and now must deal with the reality.
We have heard the voices of those fearing eviction, we have heard the voices of landlords trying to hang on to their properties during this unprecedented time, we have heard the voices of fear, desperation and are beginning to hear the voices of frustration and hopelessness as rents increase, fewer rentals are available and systems in place for relief are struggling with the volume of need. Lexington went into the pandemic with over 60,000 of our fellow residents living at or below the poverty level; how we will come out of it is yet to be seen.
Now, with the clock ticking for many who face eviction, we implore our compassionate community members who have a home and are adjusting to the new normal created by the effects of living through a pandemic, to not forget the thousands of women, men, children who are on the edge of homelessness. A community effort is in place to work with landlords to create Second Chance Rentals for families, the elderly and disabled folks who need a place to live as they put their lives back together. LFUCG has a relocation assistance program in place but without willing landlords to accept them, there is no place for them to call home. We are also asking neighborhood groups, faith communities, businesses to step up and join the Compassionate Movers Team to assist the evicted families in moving. Those with trucks, strong backs and open hearts are needed to make it possible for folks to keep their possessions as they relocate. And the final request is to say a prayer for our elderly, disabled, families with children who are at the end of the protection from eviction. They need our support as a caring and compassionate community--now more than ever before.
As Coretta Scott King stated: “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” Lexington, we are facing a true test of our compassion, now is a time that each of us can make a difference. Visit our website: catholicactioncenter.net for information on how you can be a part of this effort.
The Catholic Action Center, the Greater Lexington Apartment Association, the Downtown Landlord Association, Central KY Housing and Homeless Initiative and the city will host a Landlord Information Forum on Tuesday, July 27 at 1 p.m. at the Mother Teresa Center, 1050 Goodwin Drive. 40505. For questions, email, email@example.com.
Ginny Ramsey is the founder and executive director of the Catholic Action Center.