Rent and religion: Young Jewish girl inspired to help others during bat mitzvah

Move comes as millions of Americans face eviction
Posted at 3:32 PM, Sep 08, 2020

While balancing parenthood alone during a pandemic can challenging, adding eviction to the equation can be heartbreaking.

“My heart dropped for the simple fact that I was homeless before with my four kids,” Mary Ratchford-Bass said after losing her job as an office cleaner.

“Once the pandemic hit, they went to working from home and that left us with little to no work to do,” she said.

Just a few days before being forced out of her apartment, Ratchford-Bass, who was born into a Baptist family, was saved by someone she never met, calling it almost a “religious experience.”

“It really was,” she said. “Because when I got the eviction notice, all I could do was pray.”

Helping answer those prayers and pay the rent was 13-year-old Jewish girl Rena Brittan, who became inspired to help others while studying child labor laws during a service project for her bat mitzvah.

“She wanted to help people pay their rent in part because she wanted families and children to be safe,” said Rena’s mother, Dana Brittan.

Dana says while her daughter is staying away from the spotlight and is no longer doing interviews, she still is helping others pay their bills.

“Part of why that’s so important is because once a person is evicted from their home, it’s like having a criminal record,” she said.

Rena started a GoFundMe page with the money going to the Resident Relief Foundation, a nonprofit that help people pay their rent.

With a recent report by the American Apartment Owners Association showing 60% of landlords saying their tenants are unable to pay rent because of the coronavirus, Ratchford-Bass is thankful for Rena helping cover her housing cost during this crisis.

“If I could give her a big hug, I would,” Ratchford-Bass said. “She just doesn’t know how much she’s helped my family and I’m sure other families, too.”

So far, Rena’s GoFundMe page has raised more than $10,000, an amount she hopes to increase as millions of Americans still face evictions during this pandemic.