‘I’d be homeless’: Eviction moratorium extends, relieving residents

The new nationwide moratorium is extended until Oct. 3 with the CDC citing concerns over the spread of the Delta variant

TRI-CITIES, Wash. Tears fill the eyes of Isabel Moron as she looks at the dozens of books and picture frames that line the walls of the place she’s called home for six years.

The disabled grandmother spent the past week packing her and her two cat’s things, prepared for “the inevitable” as the national eviction moratorium expired.

“I’m single, I no longer work, and I receive SSI disability,” Moron said. “My experience has been a rollercoaster.”

Moron, who relies on the SSI disability to pay her rent, didn’t receive it for the month of July. That’s when she was told she “became a person on the list needing to be evicted.”

“I’ve never missed any rent,” Moron said. “But it didn’t come through.”

Moron said the cause was due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“With all the offices being closed they had sent some paperwork that I had never received. Not only was mail not getting delivered but there were other problems like the lack of workers and just a whole ream of different situations,” Moron said.

Without that paperwork, Moron found herself “in limbo.”

“The problem is that the complex isn’t able to work with me due to the fact that my situation falls through the cracks where I receive disability but I’m not getting disability,” Moron said. “I can’t get anything to show the programs that I no longer have the income to pay my rent.”

Moron added that it feels like she’s “stuck in a cycle” where everything that’s supposed to be helping is actually working against her.

“It took over five weeks to contact somebody and then they mailed me something but it took two and a half weeks to get here from Kennewick,” Moron said. “From our local office to my residence that’s down the road.”

Her adult children have also tried to help but Moron said “nothing is being done.”

“There are only certain places that disabled people can live and they won’t accommodate me,” Moron said. “My adult son had to stop working to take care of me.”

Moron noted she had called “over 100 numbers” but with her given situation, she’s “limited.”

“I don’t have the next step. Homelessness is inevitable,” Moron said.

Thankfully, right before KAPP/KVEW’s Ellie Nakamoto-White showed up to the interview, Moron received a short-term miracle.

“I found out just a mere 20 minutes ago. When I got the notification that it’s 30 more days, it gave me hope,” Moron said.

The added month relieved some of the stress off of Moron who said the past year was “difficult and very challenging.”

“The eviction moratorium needs to be expanded not because we don’t want to pay rent but I fell through the cracks even with all the systems,” Moron said.

But Moron is just one of the thousands of Tri-Citians and millions of Americans facing eviction, only temporarily relieved by the eviction moratoriums.

On August 3, the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention issued an extension of the eviction moratorium until Oct. 3, citing the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant and the slow rollout of financial and housing aid from the government.

The ban would cover the majority of the United States, especially in places with “substantial and high levels” of virus transmissions.

The decision was met with sighs of relief from across the country but some said it’s not long enough.

“The sheer volume of people seeking assistance has been overwhelming,” said Eric Sargent, the supportive housing department’s program manager for the Benton Franklin Community Action Committee. “We’ve been serving the community for over 50 years and I don’t think this has ever happened to this magnitude before.”

Sargent said BFCAC employees “understand the struggle” as they’re going through it themselves.

“We’re waiting on the stage or the county government at certain points to approve funding,” Sargent said. “We want to help people as much as they need the help.”

Sargent said the “most challenging factor” is the uncertainty of it all.

“Initially, when this pandemic hit, we didn’t have sufficient programs in place which is why our state and the federal government started enacting certain programs to try and get assistance to the people most in need,” Sargent said.

In these unprecedented times, Sargent added the best thing to do if you’re seeking housing assistance, is to gather all of the required paperwork to hopefully receive an expedited answer.

“I want others that are in my situation to not give up and just pull together. All we can do is give each other advice, the strength, and hope for the best that we get all this taken care of,” Moron said.

For a list of housing aid options in the Tri-Cities, click here.

For homeless assistance resources from the Washington State Department of Commerce, click here.

To view Washington state’s eviction moratorium bridge proclamation, click here.

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