Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), who is the Chairwoman of the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services, is sounding the alarm on what she says will be an eviction crisis in the U.S. after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which hit the U.S. in the middle of March, has resulted in over 177,000 deaths and counting. It has also resulted in state and local governments mandating that people stay home and not go to work. As a result of those directives, businesses remained closed for three months with states currently still attempting to re-open in stages.
Some cities are estimating that thousands will face eviction and/or foreclosure as local governments re-open, unfreezing moratoriums on rents and mortgages and enabling landlord and tenant disputes for non-payment of rent to move forward. Though some Governors have put in place or extended eviction moratoriums others have not, exacerbating outcomes for the millions of Americans facing
The U.S. is currently experiencing record days of both new positive coronavirus tests and spikes in cases in Texas, Florida, Georgia and California. As a result, Texas, Florida and California have either delayed planned re-openings or made modifications to their planned staged rollouts.
According to the most recent reporting from the U.S. Department of Labor, the advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 10.2 percent for the week ending August 8, a decrease of 0.4 percentage point from the previous week’s unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending August 8 was 14,844,000, a decrease of 636,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised down by 6,000 from 15,486,000 to 15,480,000. The 4-week moving average was 15,841,250, a decrease of 326,750 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised down by 1,500 from 16,169,500 to 16,168,000.
But the resulting economic shutdown has led to over 40 million people filing for unemployment—over 20 percent of the U.S. labor force. On June 29, nearly 60 days ago, Rep. Waters introduced H.R. 7301, the Emergency Housing Protections and Relief Act of 2020. However, typical of the state of play with a U.S. House run by Democrats and a U.S. Senate run by Republicans, Waters’ legislation remains stalled by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Speaking on the House floor, Waters said, “this bill includes several provisions that were included in the Heroes Act and independently led by a number of Members of the Financial Services Committee. Some people hearing about this bill won’t understand what we are trying to do in this bill today. As I said, this was part of the Heroes Act that passed this House, but we have been waiting on the Senate to take up the Heroes Act. They are not taking it up, they don’t seem to care, they don’t seem to understand that there are people out there who are going to be evicted, and so we have pulled it out of the Heroes Act and we are taking it up independently so that we can send a message to the Senate that we want this measure heard and so we have a number of Members who participated in putting this legislation together and who had independent bills to do so.”
“We can’t wait any longer we got to move. The CARES Act was an important step towards providing relief, but more help is needed. We knew, for example, that an eviction moratorium without the provision of rental assistance would only delay disastrous outcomes as families would have to pay, more than they could afford, a lump sum of three to four months of unpaid rent at the expiration of the moratorium,” said Waters.
The Washington Post reports that despite President Trump’s repeated claims that his administration and executive order would protect people from losing their homes, evictions have continued across the country. “It risks doing more harm than good by giving people a false impression that Trump is doing something to prevent evictions,” said National Low Income Housing Coalition President and CEO Diane Yentel about the president’s executive order.
A push led by Democrats is expected for a second stimulus is underway with bi-partisan agreement to assist small businesses in particular.
Representatives Lacy Clay, Denny Heck, David Scott, Chuy Garcia, Cindy Axne, Nydia Velazquez, Ayanna Pressley, Katie Porter, and Al Green.
(Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist for NNPA.)