Rent Moratorium in Centre County

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To all Borough Mayors, Borough Council Members, Township Supervisors, and County Commissioners:

We are calling for a moratorium on all rent, mortgage, and utility payments during this time of crisis. We are aware that some of these do exist on a case-by-case basis, and we are asking for them to be made universal [1]. Additionally, we are calling for an extension of the suspension of all evictions until such a time as the pandemic can be reasonably said to have ended. In essence, we are calling for an indefinite grace period on all such payments.

We hold that these measures are necessary to support the working, retired, disabled, student, and unemployed populations of Centre County during this time of critical need. With the shutting down of Penn State’s main campus and the students dispersed across the country and world, a significant portion of the local economy is simply no longer present. Similarly, the need for people to stay at home in order to avoid spreading the disease means that a significant further crunch in economic activity has occurred. This need also makes it irresponsible to allow businesses to shutter and people to be evicted, leaving them to the whims of ruin and disease.

We are aware that a small bit of relief has been recently passed by the federal government and will be on the way in the coming months. However, those measures will not help residents of Centre County right now, and will no longer be sufficient by the time they arrive. These proposed measures to assist the people of this county are needed urgently and can be implemented quickly. An early, clear, and aggressive intervention will save lives now and lead us all to a faster recovery afterwards [2]. People from across the country have called for a moratorium on rent, with subsidies for small-scale landlords to get them through the crisis [3]. These policies must be universal, as means-testing during this crisis will drive up costs and turn away those in need.

We will be grateful for your swift action and call on you to do whatever is within your power. If acting on this locally is beyond your power, then we ask for a statement asking landlords, banks, and utilities not to collect during this pandemic and not to charge late fees after it concludes.

The Centre County COVID-19 Community Response Team

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