Local organizations call for use of surplus funds to address eviction crisis
A group of non-profit organizations have signed a letter calling for Mayor Muriel Bowser to direct more city funds to stop evictions in the District.
The DC Fiscal Policy Institute and 37 other organizations are urging the mayor to use surplus funds from fiscal year 2021, reserves and other available capital to prevent a wave of expected evictions.
About 40,000 households are at risk of eviction, according to the letter addressed to the mayor. In addition, at least 350 families will soon face termination from rapid re-housing, which is a short-term subsidy program meant to assist individuals experiencing homelessness in finding permanent housing. The letter calls for an extension of the program for individuals who are not enrolled in another housing program.
The District received $17.8 million in federal emergency rental assistance in January. An additional $187.3 million is needed to postpone evictions and utility cutoffs for four months, according to the letter.
Tazra Mitchell, the policy director at the DC Fiscal Policy Institute, said there’s an economic imperative to stopping evictions in the District as well as a moral one.
“I think that we can all agree that housing is a basic human right,” Mitchell said in an interview. “With eviction comes trauma and disruption of education, employment, as well as poor health outcomes. Right now, we’re in the state of repairing our economy and … we cannot do that if we allow tens of thousands of our neighbors to go homeless.”
Evictions disparately affect people of color, as well, Mitchell said. The District has one of the highest income gaps in the country, according to a report by the institute.
“What we know is that if we don’t use the revenue that we actually have available locally to avert our eviction crisis, that it’s Black and brown residents who are going to pay the price the most,” she said.
This article has been updated from the Feb. 2 print edition to reflect that additional organizations signed the letter.