FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, February 12, 2021
CONTACT: Catherine McGeeney, Coalition for the Homeless, (502) 509-7818
Local Organizations Say Eviction Court Needs to be Fixed Immediately
Hundreds of Louisvillians are being evicted, even while our city has $22.5 million in rental assistance funding
LOUISVILLE, KY (February 12, 2021) —In a press conference held on the steps of the Louisville Urban League on Friday morning, the Louisville Urban League, Coalition for the Homeless, Metropolitan Housing Coalition, Shawnee Christian Healthcare Center, and Association of Community Ministries called on the Jefferson County Court to fix processes that are evicting hundreds of tenants, even as Louisville has $22.5 million in rental assistance from the federal government.
“We are here today because we can’t watch families be evicted for failure to pay rent at the same time that we have millions of dollars in the bank to pay rent,” said Sadiqa Reynolds, President of the Louisville Urban League. “We can’t allow technical difficulties to evict families from their homes and students from their schools. We will try again to work with judges and the clerk’s office, but we are here today because we need to quickly shine a light on what is happening in our city.”
Although there is a federal eviction moratorium, evictions continue in Louisville. 950 evictions have been filed already in 2021 during the peak of this pandemic winter—including tenants who have been evicted since January 25, when the court changed their virtual court details but did not notify tenants, violating tenants’ constitutional rights by meeting in an undisclosed location.
“Louisville will soon have $22.5 million in rental assistance from the federal government to pay landlords and limit evictions during the pandemic,” said Clare Wallace, Executive Director of Southern Louisville Community Ministries, who operates www.stopmyeviction.org. “Why are we evicting people now? We need to improve processes with the court and have time to distribute these funds to people in need.”
Organizations have been trying to get information on impacted tenants from the court at the time the landlord files an eviction, but the process has remained cumbersome, even while overwhelmed tenants have been paralyzed by everything simultaneously coming undone. “Advocates have tried to work with the court for months, but the court has been unwilling to engage,” said Celine Mutuyemariya with Shawnee Christian Healthcare Center. “Now we are calling on them to pause evictions so we can get help to tenants in need.”
The organizations are calling for the court and clerk to create a better system now. That means a) the court passing cases for three weeks to give service providers time to reach affected tenants, b) the court connecting tenants to service providers with $22.5 million in rental assistance, and c) the court communicating more clearly with tenants, including providing constitutional notice to tenants of their trial locations.
Natalie Harris, Executive Director for the Coalition for the Homeless, said, “If we do not take immediate action and work together to help those who have been hit hardest by this pandemic, we will soon see the greatest homeless crisis this city has ever seen.”
For more information and a tenant’s story, see this article.