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Governor Raimondo addresses resources for the undocumented, and her thoughts on evictions

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“…this virus and this crisis is hitting people hardest who are least able to absorb any additional pain or sacrifice,” said Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo.


Governor Gina Raimondo answered questions from journalists remotely at her 1pm COVID-19 press conference. As is now the case, journalists submit their questions via a web platform, and the questions are posed to the Governor by Capitol TV host Margie O’Brien. Each journalist is allowed to ask only two questions per press conference.

You can watch the full press conference here.

UpriseRI posed two questions, based on responses received via social media on reporting we’ve been doing.

The first question was about undocumented people (and people engaged in underground economies such as sex workers):

What is being done to help people who are not able to access government services, such as the undocumented?

“Overall, at this time unfortunately, this virus and this crisis is hitting people hardest who are least able to absorb any additional pain or sacrifice,” said Governor Raimondo. “There are a lot of folks in professional jobs who are able to work at home and unfortunately, a lot of other people, including undocumented folks, have lost their jobs.


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“We have begun the process and are every day raising more money philanthropically. We’ve raised millions of dollars already to help people with basic needs – food, clothing, shelter – So I would urge you to call 211, the United Way. That’s probably the easiest thing to do. And again, we’re continuing, every day, to get more donations to help with that. Also, call the Department of Human Services (DHS). Some of the the government’s social services programs are available, so that’s something you may be able to call and see what you might be eligible for.”


The next question concerned the issuance of an executive order to protect people from evictions.

See: Members of the Providence City Council call on the state to issue a moratorium on evictions during COVID-19 pandemic

There are calls for the Governor to protect people from evictions by executive order, as an additional safeguard, such as happened in other states and municipalities.

“Right now, that’s something that really isn’t an emergency, because as I’ve said, the courts are closed,” said Governor Raimondo, but, “I do want to address this:

“If you already had a pre-existing eviction order, and that order is of course valid, but if, in the course of COVID-19 happening you’re receiving an eviction notice, or your landlord is hassling you because you haven’t paid the rent and wants to evict you, that cannot happen. That cannot happen because that has to be adjudicated in the Rhode Island State Courts and those courts are closed until April 17.

“We’re getting a lot of questions from people saying [evictions] will go through municipal courts, which are still open. That isn’t true. So from now until April 17 you can breathe a sigh of relief, you will not be evicted.

“I’m asking landlords to do the right thing, by the way, even for those eviction orders that had happened prior to this crisis. The right thing is to let folks stay there. We’re asking people to stay at home, everybody needs to pitch in right now. Over time I will to see if there’s another way to address that. We have a few weeks on that and we’re taking this a day at a time right now.”

Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for half a decade. Uprise RI is his new project, and he's doing all he can to make it essential reading. atomicsteve@gmail.com

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