Mayor Bowser Can and Should Continue Helping DC Residents Pay Rent and Utility Bills

Today, 43 advocacy organizations submitted a letter to Mayor Bowser urging her to find funds to continue helping DC residents pay their rent and utility bills and prevent eviction. DC has obligated 95 percent of the $352 million it has received in federal Emergency Rental Assistance to late rental and utility payments through the program known as STAY DC and to extend households in Rapid ReHousing (RRH). In response to depleted funding, Mayor Bowser announced the October 27 deadline for applications to the program but approximately 13,900 DC households report being behind on rent.  

In the letter, advocates, including the DC Fiscal Policy Institute, urge the Mayor to continue helping residents avoid eviction by allocating funds from reserves, underspending from government agencies, and/or other funds not already dedicated to assisting residents with low incomes meet basic needs. 

If the Mayor fails to allocate additional funding for STAY DC, thousands of DC residents will face eviction and all of the trauma, disruption to education and employment, and poorer health that comes with it. Read more from the Eviction Lab at Princeton University about how evictions affects someone’s life. Amid a pandemic, preventing evictions is a crucial component in stemming the spread of COVID-19. People and families who are evicted are unable to stay protected in their homes and may end up crowding into the homes of family or friends or living on the street where they’re more vulnerable to contracting the virus. Preventing evictions is also a racial equity issue. Racism and other systemic barriers to opportunity have left people of color, especially Black people, women, and immigrants, at a higher risk for evictions. The continued funding for STAY DC would keep residents in their homes, support our communities, and avoid these harmful outcomes. 

Since STAY DC started in April, more than 23,000 households received assistance with their rent and utilities, ensuring they could meet their basic needs and stay in their homes. Advocates estimate that there is still need for approximately $74.9 million in additional rent and utility assistance and DC has several options for providing those funds. Read the full letter to Mayor Bowser for detailed recommendations on those options.