Eviction Crisis Grows Despite CDC's Moratorium

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Housing and health are intertwined: families are facing eviction even if they are sick or vulnerable. Despite the CDC's moratorium, landlords have filed tens of thousands of eviction notices.
Eviction Crisis Grows Despite CDC's Moratorium


When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a moratorium on evictions, it warned that rising homelessness could increase coronavirus infections. It's not an abstract worry. In cities like Houston and Phoenix, landlords have been filing hundreds of eviction notices per week. Bram Sable-Smith has been tracking the growing eviction crisis for Wisconsin Public Radio. He explains that COVID-19 is just one of the many health risks that come with losing your home.

BRAM SABLE-SMITH, BYLINE: Even before Robert Pettigrew learned he might get evicted, his doctor gave him some bad news.

ROBERT PETTIGREW: She said, Robert, I want to talk to you and your wife. She took us to another room, and she said, you have an invasive mass on your lung.

SABLE-SMITH: It was March. The doctor advised Pettigrew to leave his job staffing the front desk at a Motel 6 in Milwaukee. She even wrote him a doctor's note saying his lung condition put him at high risk of developing deadly complications from COVID-19.

PETTIGREW: Working at a motel, it's kind of hard to social distance, you know? People are in your face all times.

SABLE-SMITH: Now being out of work has put Pettigrew's housing in jeopardy - the housing he needs to social distance, the home where he can rest and recover if doctors determine he needs lung surgery. In August, Pettigrew's landlord filed to evict him and his wife when they couldn't make rent. Complicating things further, Pettigrew's apartment has gotten fuller since his diagnosis. His daughter arrived in May from St. Louis after the day care where she worked shut down. She brought her 3-year-old son with her.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: (Unintelligible).

PETTIGREW: This is my grandson.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: (Unintelligible).



Bram Sable-Smith
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