Organizations are advocating for a statewide moratorium on evictions during pandemic

LITTLE ROCK – As the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to cause a wave of evictions across the state starting after rent is due on June 1, a coalition of civil rights and renters’ advocates are launching a campaign this week to urge Governor Asa Hutchinson to implement a statewide moratorium on evictions and utility shut-offs. 

In a letter to Gov. Hutchinson sent today, advocates warn that, “the nearly guaranteed wave of evictions and utility shut-offs would inflict far-reaching and significant economic and social harm on Arkansans—particularly on women, people of color, low-income residents, and other vulnerable communities.”  The letter was signed by ACLU of Arkansas, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, Bill Kopsky, Arkansas Citizens First Congress, Arkansas Community Organizations, AR Poor People’s Campaign Coordinating Committee, Arkansas Renters United, Faith Voices Arkansas, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., National Association of Social Workers – Arkansas Chapter, National Housing Law Project, NWA Continuum of Care, and The Van / The One, Inc.

Arkansas is the only state in the country that makes failure to pay rent a crime. Arkansas is also the only state in the nation that does not require landlords to maintain safe, sanitary and fit premises for tenants to live in.

“Even as Arkansas continues to reopen, the economic fallout from this crisis is just beginning and thousands of Arkansans continue to experience layoffs, furloughs, and wage cuts,” said Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas interim executive director and legal director. “A statewide moratorium on evictions is critical to preventing a wave of mass evictions that would force many vulnerable Arkansans from their homes and imperil public health.”

According to an Arkansas Times investigation of Lindsey Management, the largest property management firm of apartment buildings in the state, some apartment managers are refusing to show any leniency towards renters who have been late in paying their May rent. In addition, a Springdale woman interviewed by the Arkansas Democrat Gazette was even evicted from her Allred Properties-managed apartment while she was recovering from COVID-19.