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House OKs emergency aid for renters and landlords in Missouri

House OKs emergency aid for renters and landlords in Missouri

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Evictions

Ryan Gipson rests on the back of a rented U-Haul truck during his move to a new apartment in University City on Jan. 20, 2021. Gipson's former landlord turned off the electricity to Gipson's old apartment. He recently found a new one nearby, with cheaper rent. Photo by Sara Diggins, sdiggins@post-dispatch.com

JEFFERSON CITY — Moving quickly to get money in the hands of people who need it, the Missouri House on Thursday approved hundreds of millions of dollars in emergency aid for struggling renters and landlords.

The measure, approved unanimously, earmarks $324 million for a rental assistance program to be overseen by the Missouri Housing Development Commission.

“We need to get this money to the people that need it now,” said Rep. Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis.

Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, proposed the pandemic relief spending earlier this month, but House leaders were forced to suspend legislative action last week after multiple lawmakers contracted COVID-19, delaying even faster action on it.

In St. Louis and St. Louis County, landlords have filed for almost 5,000 evictions since mid-March, when local courts suspended them, according to data compiled by the Eviction Lab, a Princeton University research project that tracks filings across the country.

The current pandemic-induced recession has hit service workers the hardest. And evictions affect low-income households the most, researchers say.

According to budget documents, Missouri is allocated $410 million of $25 billion that Congress approved for emergency rental assistance via this year’s Consolidated Appropriations Act.

Some of that money is going directly to cities like St. Louis. Thursday’s action in the House serves as a vehicle to get the money to other parts of the state.

Pending Senate approval and Parson’s signature, renters and landlords seeking emergency aid would be able to apply for funds from the housing commission.

The aid can provide up to 12 months of rent and utility assistance, ongoing rent and utilities for up to three months, and help cover missed rent or utilities since March 1.

The legislation is House Bill 16.(tncms-asset)930db55c-55c9-11eb-86a8-00163ec2aa77[0](/tncms-asset)

Kurt Erickson • 573-556-6181 @KurtEricksonPD on Twitter kerickson@post-dispatch.com

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