It’s not a secret that we’re heading straight into a housing crisis as eviction moratoriums expire. But that doesn’t mean that animal welfare organizations are powerless in the quest to keep people and their pets together.
There are several tools you can put into place now to reduce the number of pets who lose their homes:
- Understand the eviction moratorium laws in your state and jurisdiction. These laws are complicated, but you need to know the answers to questions such as: When does the moratorium in your state end? Which housing providers are subject to the CARES Act and are thus still prohibited from evicting tenants? Are all renters protected or just ones who are being evicted for nonpayment of rent? What are the notice requirements that a landlord must provide to tenants before filing for eviction?
- Connect with other community advocates. Determine who the other players are in your community and start building a relationship with them. Think about tenant advocacy groups (especially ones that specialize in eviction cases), fair housing experts, housing assistance agencies, homeless outreach groups, social workers, hospitals, and other similar community partners.
- Familiarize yourself with fair housing protections for service and assistance animals (including emotional support animals). This is a relatively easy way to keep people and pets together. And these run wide – one in four people are living with a disability. Depending on the circumstances, homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, and other transitional and emergency housing providers must permit access for service and assistance animals. This can help many people keep their pets as they navigate this crisis.
- Prepare for grassroots organizing. On the federal level, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would extend the eviction moratorium to March 2021 for all renters. Put pressure on Senators to pass it. Some states are extending their eviction moratoriums. If yours isn’t one of them, start demanding that they do.
There are no magic solutions, but by planning ahead you’ll be able to provide pet owners with options or point them in the right direction. This is going to be messy. It’s going to take a village.
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