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Tenant Network Rhode Island rallies for eviction moratorium

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We know that evictions and homelessness mores affect communities of color. Black people are disproportionately represented in the homeless population. While only 13% of the general population, Black people make up about 40% of the homeless population, and account for 50% of homeless families with children.


Tenant Network Rhode Island (TNRI) hosted a “Parade to Stop Evictions and Cancel Rent/Mortgages” at the Garrahy District Court Complex in downtown Providence on Monday morning, with around two dozen people participating. Some held signs and chanted on the corner, others drove cars around the complex, honking horns and displaying signs.

“We’re out here today to demand a complete eviction moratorium for the entirety of the declared state of emergency and for 120 days after it is lifted,” said Elaina Scorpio, an organizer with TNRI. “Right now, we are telling people that they are safer in their homes and that they need to wash their hands constantly and try to be as safe as possible. Kicking people out of their homes, putting them on the streets, putting them into overcrowded shelters that can’t handle the overflow, is just going to exacerbate this crisis and assist in spreading this disease that we’re all trying to fight together.

“We know that evictions and homelessness mores affect communities of color. Black people are disproportionately represented in the homeless population. While only 13% of the general population, Black people make up about 40% of the homeless population, and account for 50% of homeless families with children.

“The overwhelming majority of homeless children are Black children, and we need to stand together, with all of the movements happening right now,” continued Scorpio. “Our movement is intricately linked with Black Lives Matter, and we’re here to demand justice for all. So we’re asking Gina Raimondo: Put an executive order out declaring a total eviction moratorium during this state of emergency.”

Elaina Scorpio, with sign

TNRI is a “statewide coalition of tenants, property owners and supporters is demanding a complete eviction moratorium, cancellation of rent and mortgage payments, and forgiveness of all prior rent and mortgage payment obligations during the declared state of emergency and for 120 days after it is lifted.”


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In a press release, TNRI writes, “Variations of this model have been adopted by several other states including here in Southeastern New England. With tens of thousands of Rhode Islanders out of work and at risk of needing even greater assistance, this is a vital moment to protect all Rhode Islanders during the public health emergency. Because of the overwhelming support for all people in Rhode Island facing hardship if no eviction moratorium is declared, TNRI makes these demands in solidarity with those among us most at risk…

“As of this release, Rhode Island courts are currently hearing backlogged cases and are scheduled to resume eviction proceeding filings on July 1st. This is cruel, dangerous, and unacceptable. Evictions are always violent, but especially so during a global public health crisis. Putting families on the street, in shelters, or into crowded living spaces is dangerous and inhumane to those already struggling, particularly people of color who are over represented in the homeless population. In a time when our society is clearly standing up for fairness and justice for all in the United States, especially for communities that have suffered racist violence as a part of their daily lives, now more than ever the Tenant Network RI is calling for housing as a human right.”

Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade. atomicsteve@gmail.com