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Cori Bush and county executive call on St. Louis County Council to halt evictions

Cori Bush and county executive call on St. Louis County Council to halt evictions

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Evictions can be tied to increased Covid cases and the county is receiving aid from the U.S. Congress to help people at risk of losing their homes.

CLAYTON — St. Louis County Executive Sam Page and U.S. Rep. Cori Bush on Monday urged the County Council to reinstate a temporary stay on nearly 600 evictions to allow residents more time to access emergency federal housing aid.

The request from the two Democratic elected officials comes after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on April 1 extended a nationwide moratorium on evictions through June 30, noting that evictions hurt public health measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 by exposing households to the virus.

The federal extension came a day after the initial moratorium, put in place last year, expired.

Despite the extension, St. Louis County circuit courts resumed evictions this month under a court order signed March 23. In the order, St. Louis County Circuit Court Judge Michael D. Burton said evictions could resume as vaccinations increased, COVID-19 cases declined and a total of nearly $30 million in federal funding became available April 1 to help tenants catch up on back rent and utility bills and landlords recoup losses. For information about how to receive assistance, visit here.

At a news conference Monday, Page and Bush warned that residents need more time to apply for housing assistance and access the funds, and asked the County Council to adopt emergency legislation to temporarily stay evictions.

“Allowing evictions during a pandemic is simply bad public health policy,” Page said.

The council could take up the measure at its next meeting Tuesday; emergency legislation would allow the council to suspend its normal rules to fast-track legislation for final approval in one meeting.

Bush, whose congressional district includes north St. Louis County, said a county eviction stay would match federal health experts’ guidance to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“The federal government has recognized that displacing people from their homes during a pandemic will only worsen this global health and economic crisis,” Bush said. ”St. Louis County needs to follow suit.”

The circuit court in the city of St. Louis has extended its eviction moratorium until May 3.

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Reporter covering breaking news and crime by night. Born in Algeria but grew up in St. Louis. Previously reported for The Associated Press in Jackson, Mississippi and at the Wichita Eagle in Wichita, Kansas.

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