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Grand Rapids Area Tenant Union holds Press Conference outside the Eviction Courts to demand a moratorium on evictions

January 8, 2021

The Grand Rapids Area Tenant Union organized a media action in front of the Kent County Court House on Thursday, just before the courthouse closed.

A small group of tenants and allies came together, wearing masks and socially distancing to learn more about what the relatively new tenant union was doing, particularly in preparation for the likelihood of mass evictions at the end of the month.

Before the media action even began, deputies from the courthouse came out to let people know that they heard about the action and didn’t want things to get “out of hand.” In addition, three separate GRPD cruisers drove by to keep an eye on what the anti-eviction activists and supporters were doing.

The Grand Rapids Area Tenant Union chose to host their media action outside the courthouse, since eviction proceedings happen there.

The tenant union organizers then listed several demands, which included:

  • A demand that the incoming Biden administration a complete moratorium on evictions, on day one. They were also calling on Governor Whitmer and all the local Mayors in Kent County, to also support a moratorium against evictions as well.
  • Another demand was to call on all Judges to not enforce eviction proceedings in the midst of the pandemic, since putting people out on the street is both cruel and criminal.

The organizers also cited a recent study, which looked at the states that lifted eviction moratoriums early in the pandemic, found that between March 13 and September 3, that 10,700 deaths from COVID 19 occurred because people were evicted.

At one point tenants were invited to share their own experiences with landlords and Property Management Companies. One tenant said they rented from Urban Pharm, and that within the first week of living there, part of the roof collapsed. In addition, they have had issues with rodents, along with a general lack of upkeep on the property. They also shared that rent was too high and has risen 200% in recent years, making it very difficult for them pay increased rental fees, on top of other living expenses.

Organizers also stated that the media action was in conjunction with Housing is the Cure events happening in cities all across the country, action that were coordinated through Right to the City.

In preparation of the likelihood of lots of evictions, the Grand Rapids Area Tenant Union also let people know about their upcoming Eviction Defense Training, which will be this Saturday at noon, in an online format. For those interested in participating, you can go to the event page at this link.

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