JEFFERSON CITY — Dozens of protesters gathered Thursday at the Capitol demanding more action from Gov. Mike Parson to provide relief for home mortgage and rent payers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Around 50 people from across the state gathered just over an hour after Parson's daily press briefing, during which he outlined some of his administrations' efforts to ease the financial burden on those facing home insecurity, to say the state's efforts so far haven't been enough.
"It is a problem, and steps that we’ve taken before this didn’t get through," protester Tiana Caldwell said. "Even in this pandemic, we still have to fight for our lives."
For almost an hour, each protester took a turn at a microphone connected to a speaker to share personal stories of facing home insecurity as chants of " cancel rent" provided a back drop.
After every protester spoke, the group walked down Capitol Avenue to the governor's mansion carrying mock eviction notices addressed to the governor. The group said it hopes its cries don't fall on deaf ears.
"Why wouldn’t you listen to the people who put you in office or who are supposed to be your constituents?" Caldwell said. "If you’re not close enough to the problem, then listen to the people who are."
During his briefing, the governor said the state will receive a $9.4 million federal grant specifically for housing concerns.
"These funds can specifically be used to help un-sheltered homeless, sheltered homeless and those at risk of homelessness," Parson said. "The funds can also be used for eviction prevention assistance.”
In addition, the Missouri Supreme Court has suspended eviction hearings until May 15, and the federal CARES Act has provision against landlords filing new eviction notices against tenants. Those protections, however, only apply to certain demographics such as those with federally backed mortgages and those who live in public housing.
Those caveats, Caldwell said, cause the state's solution to fall short.
"It’s not even close to being enough. You’ve got the duration of the pandemic, and then there’s going to be a period of replenishment," she said. "We’ve got to recover from this crisis. It’s unrealistic to think that’s going to do it.”