Pittsburgh protesters call for extension of eviction moratorium, which ends on Aug. 31 | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Pittsburgh protesters call for extension of eviction moratorium, which ends on Aug. 31

click to enlarge Pittsburgh protesters call for extension of eviction moratorium, which ends on Aug. 31
CP Photo: Hannah Lynn
An in-car protest in the Hill District calling for an extension of the statewide eviction moratorium.
Pennsylvania's eviction moratorium is set to expire today, Aug. 31. Gov. Tom Wolf (D-York) has not yet issued an extension, so protesters gathered outside the former Shop 'N Save in the Hill District to show support for extending the eviction and foreclosure moratorium. Dozens of protesters in about 20 cars proclaimed housing as a human right and as a health-care issue. The in-car protest eventually made its way Downtown to the Allegheny County Courthouse.

The protest, organized by Pittsburgh United with support from the Dignity Act Now Collective, 1Hood, and other organizations, mirrored a May protest at the same location. Back in May, the goal of the protest was to cancel rent for the month of May. This time, the organizers were calling on elected officials to extend the moratorium at least through Nov. 30.

"Not having a house period is problematic, but during a pandemic, you need a home. You need to be able to wash your hands, you need to be able to get food deliveries, you need to be able to do all the things that are stopping the spread of the virus," says Celeste Scott, an organizer with Pittsburgh United. "It was already bad, we know there was already a housing crisis, and we just feel like laying that on top of what's going on now with the pandemic is just unconscionable to not extend the eviction moratorium."

Wolf last extended the eviction moratorium on July 9. Last week, Wolf announced that he didn't believe he had the legal authority to extend the moratorium after Aug. 31, but called on the General Assembly to take action. (Legal experts have questioned Wolf's statement). When asked this week if he would extend the moratorium, Wolf said “you have to wait and see," according to WHYY.

A recent survey from the Census bureau shows that one in five Pennsylvanians either missed rent or mortgage payments in July, or are not confident in their ability to pay their rent or mortgage next month.

In a press release about the in-car protest, state rep. Summer Lee (D-Swissvale) showed support and urged action from her colleagues.

"It is absolutely essential that my colleagues in the General Assembly approve statutory amendments that would streamline the Rental Relief Program," said Lee. "In the meantime, Allegheny County Judges Kim Berkeley Clark and Christine Ward need to reestablish a county-wide moratorium on evictions until at least November 30, 2020.”

After gathering in front of the Shop 'N Save, protesters drove Downtown to the Allegheny County Courthouse. Allegheny County Councilor Olivia Bennett (D-North Side) spoke to the protesters Downtown and urged action as well.

"Housing is a human right," said Bennett, according to WESA. "There's no reason we shouldn't extend the moratorium for folks who are paying rent so they will not be evicted."

The protest continued to the Allegheny County Jail, and ended at the Greenfield Bridge before dispersing.

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