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Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities. This year's cohort has been placed with more than 160 local news organizations across 45 states and Puerto Rico, including two journalists right here at WNIJ. We are thrilled to announce the addition of JuanPablo Ramirez-Franco to our news team, and a new role for WNIJ reporter Yvonne Boose.Yvonne Boose covers artistic, cultural, and spiritual expressions in the COVID-19 era. This includes how members of community cultural groups are finding creative and innovative ways to enrich their personal lives through these expressions individually and within the context of their larger communities.Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco covers substandard housing and police-community relations. An audio producer and journalist based out of Chicago, he’s also been a bilingual facilitator at the StoryCorps office.He will continue Sarah Jesmer’s award-winning work at WNIJ covering issues of social justice and identity. Jesmer earned a top award from the Illinois Associated Press for reports including: Inside DeKalb County's Unincorporated Apartments; Wigs, Lipstick & Sparkles: The Thriving Drag Scene In Northern Illinois; and Kish College: Anonymous Letters And A Controversial Investigation.These reporting positions come at a time when local journalism is already reeling from years of newsroom cuts and unforeseen challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.Both positions are partially funded by a grant from Report for America. WNIJ must raise an additional $30,000 in local matching funds. Support these important voices in our community by donating to WNIJ’s portion here.Yvonne and Juanpablo’s stories on our community will be collected below.

Trump Administration and CDC Order New Eviction Moratorium

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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Renters facing eviction are now receiving new federal protections through the end of the year. 

This week the Trump administration announced a temporary halt in residential evictions for those struggling during the pandemic. The latest eviction ban, which goes through December of this year, comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Bob Palmer, from Housing Action Illinois, said this is good news, but not ideal: "Overall, it's a good thing, but it's not forgiving rent [and] is not providing rent assistance. It's temporary," he said.  "So we really need Congress and the Trump administration to get back to the negotiating table on providing financial assistance that will benefit tenants and also landlords"

Palmer said this is a positive step for renters who've lost income due to COVID-19, who might otherwise be at risk of homelessness or being in an overcrowded situation. Palmer maintained that the new guidance from the CDC doesn't go as far as needed. "We really need the federal government to step in and provide additional rent assistance," he said, "because this moratorium doesn't cancel rent, the rent is still due and the productions only lasts until the end of the year."

To qualify for the CDC’s protections, renters must make less than $99,000 a year, or twice that if filing taxes jointly. They also have to declare that they have no other housing options available if evicted. Landlords who violate the ban will face criminal penalties.

  • Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco is a 2020 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project which is a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms.