Take action to prevent an eviction crisis

Congress must act to prevent homelessness and aid those of us in the greatest need

Compounding circumstances are shaping a potential near-future eviction crisis in our communities that must be prevented. “Church leaders are challenged to help create the public will to eliminate homelessness, asserts the ELCA social message “Homelessness: A Renewal of Commitment.” Many Lutherans and interfaith partners provide essential housing services, including to seniors, people with disabilities and low-income families.

Contributing to housing insecurity right now is an increased pandemic-related eviction risk, displacements following natural disasters, and strained program funding. Only a few legislative days are left for Congress to work on extremely pressing issues before Election Day, including passing a federal budget to ensure government operations continue. It is a critical time to call on our representatives to turn their attention to skyrocketing housing and homelessness needs in our communities among their many to-do items.

Housing KeyOn September 1st, the White House issued a new national moratorium on evictions for many households across the U.S. through the end of this year. This major step offers a critical lifeline to the millions of us facing risk of homelessness but is a temporary step that will only delay evictions for the time being. The White House took temporary action, and now federal lawmakers in Congress need to hear from us that a looming homeless crisis is one that people of faith take seriously and that requires urgent attention.

Millions of low-income households have missed at least one housing payment in the last few months. Without a new moratorium on evictions or federal response, these households could be at risk of eviction. According to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, 30 to 40 million renters may lose their home by the end of this year, and early reports indicate disproportionate impact on people of color.

In present circumstances such as hurricanes that hit the south, severe storms that devastated the Midwest, and wildfires in California, many are struggling to find shelters as their homes are either damaged or destroyed. The evacuation order from many states to mitigate loss of life during natural disaster have also added to the needs for safe homes. Such necessary displacement pushes families to home insecurity and the brink of eviction. Preparing our disaster aid resources in response to evacuations, such as authorizing the emergency Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG-DR), can go a long way in bolstering survivors and strengthening the resilience of our communities.

Regardless of precipitating reason, those of us in emergency shelter face heightened risk of contracting the coronavirus. Shelter is a critical health and security issue, and our neighbors in the greatest need cannot afford to delay support any longer.

In distressed communities, maintaining funding for the Department for Housing and Urban Development’s housing and homelessness prevention programs, as well as the Department of Agriculture’s rural housing programs, are vital for initiating community revitalization and stability – especially in times of crisis. Funding levels must at minimum be maintained.


Your personal or congregational story has an impact. Additional information to share with your members of Congress can be found from sources such as:

  • Census Data – Share statistics indicating people at risk of eviction in your state.
  • Long-term Disaster Aid (like S. 2301) – Add stories and figures to your message based on local disaster experience, including Community Development Block Grants and emergency aid programs.
  • State low-income housing needs – Find data from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, of which the ELCA is an active member, on local context and needs.

Both parties in Congress need to return to the negotiation table NOW to quickly address urgent housing issues. Send your own CUSTOMIZED message by editing the sample language below to highlight your local and personal faith perspective.

Recipients

  • Your Senators
  • Your Representative

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Message

Dear [Decision Maker],

Sincerely,
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]