Likely to Impact Lower Income African Americans and Hispanics in Fairfield County
In a recent survey by the Census Bureau, over 38,000 residents in Fairfield County estimated that they were “likely to be facing eviction and homelessness in the next two to three months.”
A disproportionate 90 percent of those to be affected were from the Latino and African American community, according to the survey addressed by Alliance for Community Empowerment’s Executive Director Dr. Monette Ferguson in a recent Alliance Allies Livestream event with Erin Kemple, the Director of Connecticut Fair Housing Organization.
“This is the heart and soul of Connecticut people not being able to make ends meet,” said the executive director of Alliance.
Connecticut’s Governor Ned Lamont’s Eviction Moratorium, which currently delays some eviction and foreclosures during these tough times will run out on February 7.
The collaborative efforts of both agencies are in aspirations to provide equal housing opportunities for all by preparing, educating, advocating, and offering resources to alleviate the likely eviction tsunami crisis. Since October, over 100 people a week are being served eviction notices, said Kemple, who has been offering housing legal assistance since 1985. She said that most tenants do not know their rights and that the people of racial inequities groups are not getting the attention and awareness on how to prevent evictions and foreclosures.
“Housing is a basic need. That is where Alliance can help solve the issue by offering assistance. It is reminiscent of what Dr. King Jr. would want to do for this issue, by uplifting the oppressed, so they can overcome what the system has made out for them to be in, and not put people of color out of their houses” said Dr. Ferguson.
There is federal funding to the tune of $237 million dollars coming to Connecticut to aid the eviction crisis soon. Erin Kemple said that the state needs to create a program that helps pay the rent not just now, but for the future, and is easily distributed to assist as many people as possible and prevent homelessness.
“So many tenants are out of work now for various reasons. For some, the employer has not called them back in, parents are home teaching their kids, COVID-related exposure, or illness has prevented them from going back to work full-time,” said Kemple.
The Director of CT’s Fair Housing Organization says that there is some hopeful legislation that may extend the Moratorium, which she says is necessary.
Kemple stressed the importance of education and triage for those who urgently need help. She said that Alliance can refer those residents to the legal center for legal advice, or Alliance could help assist with the security deposit and first month’s rent if the tenant must move.
“The problem is that people do not know where to ask for help,” said the Director of CT Fair Housing Organization.
Dr. Ferguson said that she appreciates the knowledge, expertise, sympathy, and empathy Kemple brings to this partnership, because “the fear and human emotional impact is bigger than just being evicted or not being able to pay rent.”
Of those surveyed, only 15 percent said that were fine and were not likely at risk of being evicted. All of them in this group were white.
Alliance for Community Empowerment is a non-profit organization that works hard to bridge the social equity gap and provide a multitude of supportive services such as energy assistance, rent assistance, subsidized childcare, senior services, COVID crisis-affected relief packages, COVID testing, help for the homeless, and food supplement programs for low-income individuals and families in Fairfield County.