Rep. Felix calls for rent relief clinics to get word out to BIPOC communities about help that’s available
STATE HOUSE — Rep. Leonela “Leo” Felix (D-Dist. 61, Pawtucket) joined with Dr. Luis Daniel Muñoz, Direct Action for Rights and Equality, and the George Wiley Center today in calling for clinics to get the word out about relief options that are available for Rhode Islanders who are having difficulty paying rent.
“COVID-19 has exacerbated the housing crisis in our state, and both landlords and tenants are facing extremely difficult choices,” said Representative Felix during a press conference at the State House. “The financial help to pay rent or mortgages is there, but too many people can’t access it.”
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Aug. 26 to invalidate the federal eviction moratorium, eliminating vital eviction protections that have kept millions of households stably housed.
“I acknowledge the hard work that Rhode Island Housing is doing to ensure people get economic relief through Rent Relief RI, and I know it hasn’t been easy,” said Representative Felix. “But regardless of that effort, communities who are most in need of eviction relief funds — BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities — are being left behind. Community organizations like the George Wiley Center, Direct Action for Rights and Equality, Center for Justice, and others are trying to fill that gap, but they can’t do it alone.”
Representative Felix proposed the establishment of clinics, modeled after the equity-focused BIPOC Vaccination Clinics, which would help individuals and families not only to get information about rent relief options, but to sit down with a trained volunteer to apply for the relief right away.
“We need to meet people where they are,” said Representative Felix. “We need to acknowledge that cultural, language and digital divides really do exist in Rhode Island; and it is up to us to address them.”