Springfield sees continued need for federal support to fight unemployment, homelessness amid pandemic

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — People gathered in more than 30 cities around the country today to protest evictions and foreclosures. Springfield was one of those cities. Ten people showed up outside City Hall on July 25 to protest a much larger problem.

The federal eviction moratorium ended on Friday, July 24. This puts more than 12 million people at risk of losing their homes.

“Since the start of this pandemic, about 50 million people have become unemployed and the number of homelessness continues to grow,” said Ryan Minor, organizer of the eviction protest. “It’s violent to leave people out on the street during the middle of a pandemic that could kill them and people that they know.”

This is a topic that hits home for Minor. He was homeless for three months when he was 19 years old.           

“It was a precarious situation, but I found my way out of it,” Minor said. “That’s just because I had friends and family I could count on to really help me out.”

Minor is 25 now, and the federal eviction protections ending has put him on the brink of becoming homeless again.

“I’ve got like another $1,500 in my savings account and that’s going to be enough for my food and my bills for about another month,” Minor said. “And, after that, it’s going to be really precarious especially with my car going out and everything else.”

Minor is doing whatever it takes to not live on the street again.

“I’ve applied to over a dozen places at this point,” Minor said. “I’ve really lost count.”

On top of the places he’s applied to, he has yet to hear back from the unemployment office, which means he hasn’t received a single penny of the $600 federal supplement for people who are unemployed.

“I imagine I’ll get like a couple of weeks of it in back pay,” Minor said. “So far, my experience with the unemployment office has been like a series of phone tag. I was on hold for an hour at one point in time. I have a life. I have things I need to take care of and responsibilities.

Missouri State University economics professor John Stuart Rabon, says he’s confident there’s going to be an extension on the federal supplement announced next week. But, Rabon says it won’t be $600 a week anymore. It’ll likely be less.

“There’s bipartisan support to get something done about unemployment benefits extending,” Rabon said. “Steve Mnuchin, the treasury secretary, hinted at saying a 70% replacement rate is what they’re aiming for. I would expect that to happen this week.”

Rabon offers a possible solution for those who are struggling to find housing or pay their rent.

“The Housing Urban Development, they are very good at helping people find housing even if you have been evicted,” Rabon said. “If you haven’t been making any payments, you’re probably going to be in trouble. But, from the landlords that I know and I talk to, they understand the circumstances. They’ve been working with people to make sure that ‘pay me what you can now, and we’ll figure out something later’ type of deal. Landlords don’t like to evict. It’s costly to them to evict people, and that’s not something they would like to do.”

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