Latino families at risk: Eviction assistance programs are not easy to access
The technical language on the applications, as well as the lack of help in Spanish, don’t let families access to programs that may prevent eviction. Picture: DoubletreeStudio / Adobe Stock

The moratorium that prohibited the eviction of individuals who could not pay their rent has come to an end, but COVID-19 continues to rage, wreaking havoc on health and the economy. We are on the verge of an eviction crisis and Latino families are at risk.

More than a year after the start of the pandemic, the number of new cases continues to be high at the national level mainly due to the Delta variant and the reluctance of some people to get the COVID-19 vaccine. This uncertainty continues to affect the economy.

In a survey published on September 27, the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) announced that they expect slower economic growth (5.6%) this year due to the Delta variant.

This is not good news for people who live paycheck to paycheck, especially for those who are behind on their rent.

Latino families at risk

Currently 23% of North Carolina’s population has failed to pay rent for their home at least once, according to Census data. Moreover, 15.8% of the population is at risk of eviction.

According to a Census Bureau survey conducted during the first two weeks of August, at least 19,786 Latinos in North Carolina said they could be evicted in the next two months.

Although these statistics do not reflect all Latinos at risk of eviction, the numbers can be used for reference.

The maze of finding help

Now, the American Rescue Plan provided billions of dollars for states to administer relief funds to renters who are unable to pay rent because of financial hardship due to the pandemic.

The federal Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program was created to help renters and homeowners, yet thousands of families (among them many Latinos) remain at risk of eviction. Why?

Activists have denounced that the application process for assistance is tedious and complex, not to mention that it is also time-consuming and inaccessible in some cases.

Part of the problem is the technical language on the applications, as well as the lack of help navigating the registration process in Spanish.

The organization Siembra NC surveyed individuals they serve in the Latino community and found that more than half did not know that they qualify for assistance.

These activists also stated that it has been difficult to communicate with representatives of the program from different counties.

“For example, we called the Cabarrus County office and they told us that there is a six-month waiting list, which doesn’t really help someone who is in danger of losing their home in the next one or two weeks,” Juan Miranda, organizing director of Siembra NC, told La Noticia.

Relief funds are available, don’t be discouraged

It is astonishing that although there are millions of dollars in funds, not enough is invested in directly serving those affected-- poor families with language barriers or limited access to the internet-- and helping them navigate the process.

Latino families at risk of eviction should ask for help from their community, local organizations, and neighbors. Do not be discouraged if you filled out the application incorrectly, or if it is rejected because you are missing a document-- funds are available; and you should try again.

These programs also allow landlords and building owners to apply for assistance on behalf of their tenants. If it is in your power to help a family not to be thrown out on the street, reach out your hand to help them fill out an application and seek assistance.

Read this article in Spanish here.

Diego Barahona A.

Periodista, editor, asesor, y presentador. De 2016 a 2019 el periodista más galardonado en Estados Unidos por los Premios José Martí. Autor del best seller: ¿Cómo leer a las personas?

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