Oct 1, 2021

LaKeysha Fields, Assistant Divisional Director of Social Services

The Salvation Army is one step closer to keeping people in their houses, as evictions loom large nationwide.

This week, The Salvation Army accepted a $500,000 check from the federal government as part of its Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), in partnership with the City of St. Louis. It is the second of two ERAP checks to The Salvation Army this year, totaling more than $1 million to distribute for housing and utility costs.

The St. Louis metro area (city and county) has seen more evictions than most cities at about 10,106, ranking 15th in American cities since March 2020, according to Princeton U.’s Eviction Lab research project.

“We will keep doing this,” said LaKeysha Fields, Assistant Divisional Director of Social Services of The Salvation Army Midland Division, about getting emergency rental money in the hands of building owners to keep tenants in their apartments.

“Now, sometimes people have over a year’s worth of arrears that they’re behind,” Fields said.  “It used to be a month of rent. Now, it’s possibly 12 months with $5,000 to $8,000 or even more that people are owing.”

More funds – probably much more – will be required to pay off housing and utility costs since the start of the pandemic era. St. Louis County reported this week that $45 million had been requested from 10,263 applications.

“Extremely low income” residents comprised 72% of those applications, with an average income of $14,610.

“The need has always been great,” Fields said. “The pandemic has made it greater. It’s brought to light a lot of issues that we knew were existing about conditions to live in. The situations that cause them to not be stably housed.”

Evictions have been exacerbated with the federal funds processing slowly through the system. Owners continue to look for paybacks on their sunken property costs.

“Everyone wants folks to stay housed,” Fields said. “Owners need to get paid for their properties. We’re dealing with a lot of different situations, but for the most part people are cooperative.”

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