Protestors gather in front of Governor’s mansion demanding ‘No evictions, cancel rent’

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — No rent, no problem. That’s what protestors sounded off on today, asking the Governor to halt those payments along with evictions.

We talked to both sides of this heated issue today. Protestors stayed apart while protesting today.

“We’re ready to make some noise,” said a protestor.

While taking a stand together outside the Governor’s mansion.

“No evictions, cancel rent,” yelled protestors.

After losing his job at a Little Rock restaurant Pennington says his family could be evicted.

“They’re telling us that we’re gonna have to pay it regardless and we don’t have the money,” said Pennington.

Protestors want the state to stop rent and mortgage payments for the next six months, not require any back pay and also freeze evictions.

Court records show statewide there have been about 150 evictions filings in the past month and not all related to the pandemic.

“It could be because they were non-payments of rent six months ago and not because of COVID-19 so there could be a whole host of reasons we don’t know about,” said Governor Hutchinson.

That part of why the State Landlord Association sent this letter to the governor. It’s the president saying his members are in this with tenants.

“If somebody has been a good tenant, why do we want to get rid of them? We can work with them,” said Ken Pevehouse the President of the Landlords Association of Arkansas.

Plus he says not all landlords have morgages and need rental income paid back.

“They just want it to be forgiven and we don’t see that that’s fair or appropriate. No one is going into Walmart and demanding free food,” said Pevehouse.

No easy solution as this issue reaches a boiling point for Pennington’s family.

“We are going to be on the streets,” said Pennington.

News release from Arkansas Renters United on the protest:

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — On Friday, May 1 at Noon in front of the Governor’s mansion in Little Rock renters and concerned citizens will park and remain in their cars while holding signs urging Governor Hutchinson to issue a ban on all evictions in the state during the pandemic. They will also give him a special wake up call.

A record number of unemployment claims have been filed in Arkansas.  Many people have yet to receive Economic Impact Payments.  Children are home from school. COVID 19 cases are not due to “peak” until early May.  Widespread testing is not occurring, and people can spread the virus without even having symptoms. It is unjust and short-sighted to turn people out of their housing during a pandemic, especially when they’ve lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

Despite what the Governor has said in the past, evictions have continued to be filed in courts in Arkansas. It is time for him to wake up and face the truth. 

Forty-one states have some sort of eviction ban in place.  Under the CARES Act there is a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures for all housing subsidized or backed by the federal government.

Arkansas is unique.  We are the only state with a criminal eviction statute and with no warranty of habitability law. 

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