Cori Bush, Sam Page Want Temporary Eviction Ban in St. Louis County

click to enlarge Congresswoman Cori Bush says evicting people during the pandemic adds to the danger. - COURTESY CORI BUSH
Congresswoman Cori Bush says evicting people during the pandemic adds to the danger.

Congresswoman Cori Bush and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page are asking the county council to issue an emergency measure to temporarily block evictions during the pandemic.

The St. Louis County Circuit Court had taken a twelve-month break from evictions in keeping with advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC warned kicking people out of their homes and scattering them through the community would increase the spread of COVID-19.

The CDC moratorium was set to expire on March 31, and as the federal deadline approached, St. Louis County Presiding Judge Michael Burton announced the county would resume evictions in April. The county's plan called for beginning with evictions tied to drug activity before opening to all evictions on April 5.

The CDC ended up extending its moratorium, but the county pushed forward with the evictions and has begun working through nearly 600 cases that have piled up during the pandemic.

Burton noted that nearly $30 million in federal aid would be opening up in April to help people with rent and back rent.

In a news conference this morning, Bush and Page said they want to give people more time to apply for and access that assistance (which is available for tenants and landlords) at what is a critical time in the pandemic. Resuming evictions now is not only "not wise," but dangerous, according to Page and Bush.

"It's deadly, and it's dangerous," Bush said. "St. Louis can do better, and it must do better."

The circuit court in the City of St. Louis has already extended its eviction moratorium until May 3. The resumption of evictions in the county comes as vaccination supply is opening up (another factor cited by the courts), but the percentage of the population that is vaccinated is still low.

About 30 percent of county residents have had at least one dose, and 20 percent are fully vaccinated, according to state data. The numbers are even lower in the city, where 22 percent have had one dose and nearly 14 percent are done.

Page announced this morning that county residents will no longer have to pre-register with the county health department for a vaccine. Starting tomorrow, they will be able to go to St. Louis County's coronavirus site, pick the time and place they want to get their shot and sign up.

In the city, a mass vaccination clinic continues at the Dome at America's Center. Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and there is free parking at North Sixth and Cole streets. People are asked to register through Missouri's vaccine navigator to save time, but walk-ins are welcome.
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