Rent Assistance Must be Part of CARES Fund Allocation

As the Mississippi Legislature considers how to allocate our share of the CARES Act fund, it is vital that $50-75 million be used for rent assistance in these dire economic times. With unemployment numbers reaching record highs and months-long delays in getting unemployment claims paid, many, many Mississippians are struggling to meet their monthly expenses, including rent payments. 32% of Mississippi’s residents rent their homes, and when they do not pay their rent, they face eviction and homelessness and their landlords cannot meet their financial obligations.

In passing the CARES Act, Congress recognized the needs of both tenants and landlords in designating rent assistance as a permissible use of funds. As the state moratorium on evictions expired June 1, the number of eviction cases has steadily grown, and unemployment numbers continue to rise, putting more families at risk of eviction. In this time of global pandemic, when Mississippi’s new case numbers continue to rise, it is vital for all Mississippians to have a stable place to live—putting people on the street constitutes a public health catastrophe.

Urge the members of the Mississippi Legislature to use CARES Act funding for those most directly and immediately affected by COVID-19. Allocating sufficient funds to pay rent while people are struggling to regain their financial footing will help tenants, landlords, and all Mississippi communities.