Councilors Kat Kerwin (Ward 12), Rachel Miller (Ward 13) and Helen Anthony (Ward 2) proposed a resolution at tonight’s City Council Meeting urging Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo to enact a complete eviction moratorium. Additionally, this resolution encourages cancellation of rent and mortgage payments and forgiveness of prior payments and obligations for the duration of the State of Emergency and for 120 days after the order has been lifted.
“Rhode Island courts have been closed since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. There is a backlog of eviction cases coinciding with a jump in the state’s unemployment rate from 5% to 17%. It is clear that many Rhode Islanders are facing financial turmoil, and this is not the time to throw them out of their homes,” stated Councilwoman Kat Kerwin. “As legislators it is incumbent upon us to protect the residents of Providence from further financial hardships and displacement. This pandemic has touched the lives of everyone, but it is having the greatest effects on our low-wage and gig earners who have not been able to work due to closures of bars, limited reopening of restaurants and other parts of the service industry.”
“The COVID-19 crisis is far from over,” stated Councilor Rachel Miller “Moving forward with evictions would not only be unethical but it would increase homelessness and cause a heightened threat to public health and safety; possibly creating further spread of the COVID-19 virus. The majority of residents in Rhode Island are struggling, and we should be creating safety nets, and doing whatever we can to ensure that no resident faces eviction or foreclosure due to this global pandemic that was out of their control.”
The Councilors are also urging the Rhode Island General Assembly to take up a bill which replicates the language proposed in HR 6515- “Emergency Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act of 2020”, proposed by Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. This resolution would prohibit evictions for nonpayment of rent or mortgages, prohibit fines, fees and debt accrual for nonpayment, enact rent forgiveness and establish a relief fund to assist landlords.
“Our State government must work to support all Rhode Islanders during this difficult time; from renters and homeowners, to landlords. We cannot turn our backs on our neighbors who are struggling now, simply because the courts have reopened or executive orders have expired. The economic effects of COVID-19 remain and our government must continue to work to ensure all Rhode Islanders are able to get back on their feet without the fear of losing their homes or becoming homeless,” stated Councilwoman Helen Anthony.
Upon passage of the resolution, a copy shall be sent to Governor Gina Raimondo, Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, and Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello.