With the federal eviction moratorium ending in July, many Black survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual assault will be forced from their homes. Freedom Inc. has partnered with Madison Tenant Power and launched a housing fund for Black women, children and Queer folx impacted by housing insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Their goal is to cover rent for 10 families by July.
“The CDC, in efforts to ensure safety for people and ensure that we don’t have just masses of people who are out on the streets who don’t have anywhere to go in the middle of a pandemic, they put in place an eviction moratorium,” said Jessica Williams, Gender Justice Director of Freedom Inc. “Just put a halt to that so that people aren’t out of housing. So during the moratorium, even if people, due to not being able to work because of the pandemic or losing employment because you’re dropping out of business during the pandemic or whatever it is … you don’t have funds to pay rent in the middle of this crisis, you can’t be removed from your housing.”
The federal government put out $45 billion dollars towards rental assistance for people during the pandemic, but Williams talked about how the need is actually at $75 billion, leaving a $35 billion shortfall. People are struggling to find affordable housing because of high moving costs and security deposits of one month’s rent. The pandemic has only worsened financial hardships.
“I think it’s harder because people’s own incomes have been really impacted by COVID. People have talked about how food costs have increased, but then, people’s food costs have really increased because children are home from school,” Williams says. “They’re eating a lot more at home, they’re bored. They don’t have a lot of things to do people and people are eating out of boredom.”
Williams addressed the real impacts COVID has had on communities in need across the country. The cost of living has increased due to inflation. People’s living expenses have increased because they are in the house, eating out of boredom and are spending more money on groceries with children being home from school. Families who did not have Internet services at home before the pandemic need them now for work and because children are attending school virtually.
“So personal donations have been impacted by that,” said Williams. “Also, throughout the pandemic, there’s been so many calls for donation and support in so many different rings. I think because there’s just so many asks. And there’s so much need, there’s just so much need everywhere. Because the need is really just everywhere. And families of people that would normally donate to us, they themselves are also in need.”
Freedom Inc. believes that quality housing is a human right and essential to the safety and well-being of those surviving intimate partner violence and sexual assault. Donated funds will support Black and brown families who are vulnerable from the pandemic with their housing needs and other essentials.
“It’s definitely about Black survivors,” said Williams. “I would call it an epidemic that we can see for a long time, this housing shortage and the really extreme housing costs. Black people are at the center and the ones that are facing poverty at the highest. And with that, we have a city (Madison) whose living costs are increasing. We have super-expensive apartment complexes that are being built because of the rise of companies like Epic. This is something that’s been here for a really long time. And I think because of the pandemic, unfortunately, this is what has really given us the spotlight to push for changes in the ways that people are being housed.”
The Freedom Housing Fund will be accepting donations throughout the month of July and their goal is to reach $10,000 to help families in need in Madison. To donate to the Freedom Housing Fund, click here. . For more information about Freedom Inc., visit: https://www.facebook.com/AboutFreedomInc.