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St. Louis County, city look to local eviction moratoriums after U.S. Supreme Court ruling | Politics

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Terri Blevins, 44, registers for help at an event sponsored by the city of St. Louis with the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council to assist people with filing their application for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program at St. Louis Community College Forest Park campus on Friday, Aug. 20, 2021. “Thank God this is right on time” said Blevins about the program. Blevins says she is concerned about being evicted because she has fallen behind on rent after having to quit her job to care for both her mother and daughter who were infected by COVID-19. The application assistance program, where volunteers are available to help people file for rent assistance, continues on Saturday at the St. Louis Community College Forest Park Campus from 10am-2pm. More than 100 people were given help filing their paperwork during Friday’s event. Photo by David Carson, dcarson@post-dispatch.com

CLAYTON — Less than a week after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a national eviction moratorium, a decision expected to accelerate the housing crisis for low-income Americans, the St. Louis County Council considered a countywide moratorium, then decided to wait.

The proposed county eviction moratorium, which has been before the council for weeks, was up for final action Tuesday night and appeared to have enough votes to pass.

But after a short discussion, the sponsor, Councilwoman Rita Days, agreed to hold it at the request of Republican Councilmen Tim Fitch and Mark Harder, who raised questions about its legality.

Days, a Democrat and council chair, said she would expedite a committee hearing, noting the clock is running out on tenants who already face eviction.

Even if the ordinance is enacted, it’s unclear whether the courts would go along with a local pause on evictions — a process governed by state law in Missouri.

“If they try to do this it will be completely and utterly unlawful,” Matthew Chase, a University City-based lawyer who represents landlords, told the Post-Dispatch before the County Council vote. “If (courts) decide to obey the dictates of a powerless County Council, then where does that leave me and my clients? We have a judge telling us we’re forbidden from enforcing Missouri law?”


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