COLUMBIA — Dozens of protesters displayed large banners along Interstate 70 Monday from Kansas City to St. Louis. Members of a group called The Coalition to Protect Missouri Tenants wanted Missouri Governor Mike Parson to suspend rent and mortgage payments because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Coalition members took their demands to the streets, or rather, the highway to make sure leadership in Jefferson City knew rent and mortgage payments were a problem in Missouri. Protesters said the Governor must act before May 1 when rent was due and tens of thousands of Missourians won’t be able to pay.
More than 60 protesters parked along the shoulder of I-70, stretching from Kansas City to St. Louis. The protesters wanted people to be aware of their rent and mortgage crisis while putting pressure on Parson to freeze rent payments. Protesters displayed a large banner in Columbia at the Providence Road exit.
Coalition to Protect Missouri Tenants member Candace Ladd said, “I work in eviction defense as a social worker. I know that we already have hundreds of evictions scheduled for when the courts reopen. We’re going to see a huge influx of people right after the stay at home order is lifted.”
Kansas City landlord Janis Deveney said her low-income tenants were more at risk because if they got sick or couldn’t work, they couldn’t pay their rent.
“We just want Governor Parson to know it’s a problem now, not two months from now," Deveney said. "It’s a problem today.”
Demonstrators hoped their Interstate 70 protest sent a strong message to the Governor.
“I don’t know how I’m going to pay my rent on May 1," Coalition to Protect Missouri Tenants member Christopher Smith said. "We do the governor has the power to do it. We think the Governor is paying attention.”
Protesters wanted the Governor to freeze rent and mortgages, suspend evictions and foreclosures and ban utility shut-offs. Governor Parson said if housing became a problem in Missouri, his administration would look into it.