Moratorium on evictions set to end this year, worrying renters

The nationwide moratorium on evictions will expire at the end of December, and if the government doesn't extend it, some are concerned we could face a larger homelessness crisis.

So, one Minnesota organization is working to make sure it's prepared for that scenario.

When Melody Silva experienced homelessness a few years ago, she turned to the Community Resource Center at St. Andrew's Lutheran Church in Mahtomedi for help.

Now, she's worried she could be homeless again after the beginning of the year.

"It's horrible, frightening...scary," Silva said.

The Community Resource Center has helped 242 people with rental assistance this year already in Washington and Ramsey counties. But, advocates believe thousands of people who are behind on their rent because of the pandemic could lose their homes if the federal moratorium ends, or if a state ban on evictions - which is renewed every 30 days with the governor's special emergency powers - isn't extended. 

"If the wave [of homelessness] comes, that is our greatest concern. How are we going to meet the needs of our people who are being evicted?" asked Carlos Gantschoff with the Community Resource Center.

The Community Resource Center wants the CDC and the state lawmakers to extend the eviction moratoriums well past the first of the year. It also met with more than three dozen state and local agencies and faith-based organizations to figure out how to help those who become newly unsheltered.

"My alarm, I would say is between 8 and 10. This is something that is real. This is something we need to address," Gantschoff said.

Silva works two jobs and is still barely able to make ends meet, but she hopes her family and neighbors will continue to have a place to call home well into the new year and beyond. 

"It needs to be extended. This disease has done nothing but cause the worst trickle down effect I've ever seen."

There are millions of dollars left in the state's COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program, which ends at the end of the year. Many communities have their own programs to help residents pay their rent or mortgage.