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Santa Claus visits State House to advocate for the evicted and housing insecure

“Anyone who is trying to evict families during the holidays: where is your heart? I’m asking Santa for a heart for you. To our leaders: what are doing to fix this situation? I’m asking Santa for you all to be brave.”

Santa Claus visited the Rhode Island State House on Tuesday to read letters from Rhode Islanders who’ve been evicted or had other housing security issues during the pandemic. Santa demanded action from our State leaders to meet the needs and basic human rights of their constituents.

“The CDC Eviction moratorium will elapse soon, and 1 In 3 Americans report that they are struggling to pay for their basic needs,” said Rhode Island Senator-elect Tiara Mack, who kicked off the event, “COVID is not anyone’s fault, but stopping the eviction crisis is our responsibility. Evictions disproportionately target families with children and Black families. Rhode Island has the second highest unemployment rate in New England. Nearly one in five Rhode Islanders lost their job in April. If you’ve lost your job because of an emergency like COVID, you should not have to worry about being evicted. Without a stable home, we cannot find work. We can not take care of our loved ones when they’re sick. Housing is healthcare.”

Here’s the entire livestream:

Ho-Ho-Homes For All

Join us on Facebook Live on December 22nd at 3pm to hear Santa read letters on the Statehouse steps from Rhode Islanders who’ve been evicted during the pandemic. Santa will be calling on Gina Raimondo to make an executive order enacting an eviction/foreclosure moratorium. This event will be hosted by the incredible Tiara Mack and will include community performances from Evan R. and others! Will you join us and call or email the Governor and demand she pass an executive order for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic? Rhode Islanders need protection now! Ready to make your call/send your email? Find the script here:

Posted by Tenant Network RI on Tuesday, December 22, 2020

The letters Santa read aloud were from Rhode Island tenants, collected by organizers working one on one with families facing eviction during the pandemic. The names of the tenants were kept anonymous.

One tenant explained their situation, saying: 

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“When I tried to find another apartment, I was denied because of the eviction filing. I’m in a complete catch 22: on one side, my landlord will not participate in the rental assistance program, and on the other side, the eviction filing on my record is keeping me from getting a new place.” 

Another tenant shared: 

“I am a mother to a 2 year old and I also take care of my disabled mother and my landlord is trying to evict me during a pandemic to move family members in. I always pay my rent on time! What about my family and my sick mother? Where will we go? Where will we live? There are no available apartments out there.” 

A third Rhode Islander wrote: 

Anyone who is trying to evict families during the holidays: where is your heart? I’m asking Santa for a heart for you. To our leaders: what are doing to fix this situation? I’m asking Santa for you all to be brave.” 

Direct Action for Rights and Equality’s Tenant and Homeowner Association, Childhood Lead Action Project, Tenant Network RI, and other coalition partners and community members hosted this live-streamed street theater and advocacy event, continuing their calls to Governor Gina Raimondo to use her executive powers to put a halt on evictions in Rhode Island for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.