GOP Stimulus Bill Has Extra Helping Of 'You're Now Homeless'
As recently as Sunday, which is another country, Donald Trump's chief economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, was saying that the coming Republican stimulus package would for sure include an extension of the CARES Act's provisions protecting renters from evictions. Monday, Mitch McConnell grunted the HEALS act into a pit he'd dug with his own flippers, covered it with sand, and heaved himself into the sea whence he came, and the son of a bitch doesn't include any protections for renters or mortgage holders. That's right, not even the mortgage holders! Guess Larry Kudlow's reassurances on legislation are every bit as non-airtight as his reassurances in February that the coronavirus itself was "contained."
An advocacy group, the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project, warned earlier this month that if the federal government's emergency unemployment insurance and eviction moratorium were allowed to expire, between 9 million and 23 million families will be at risk of eviction by October. The Senate proposal does extend the emergency unemployment program, but slashes the benefit from $600 a week to $200 while states come up with a formula to ensure no one receives more than 70 percent of their pre-shutdown income. So perhaps the actual number of evictions will be on the lower end of that scale?
We swear the GOP's 2020 electoral strategy is now to just see how many people it can kill of despair before November.
The eviction moratorium actually expired Friday, and the New York Times reported last week that in anticipation, landlords nationwide were already filing eviction notices — illegally, if anyone's counting — in advance of the expiration, so they could throw tenants out 30 days after the moratorium ended.
The CARES Act temporarily banned evictions and late fees until July 25, and required that 30-day notice to vacate. It didn't actually cover all renters in the country, however, applying only to rental properties that received federal funds (like Section 8 housing assistance) or which were financed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. That covered about a third of renters, but now, with the protections gone, it looks like the evictions will start ramping up. And that means, for many families, a cascade of problems, as the Aspen Institute explains:
Many landlords will not rent to anyone with a past eviction or debt owed to a previous landlord so displaced families often have few options except substandard homes in disinvested neighborhoods that offer little access to good jobs or transit. Court costs and moving expenses tend to consume all the household's savings and assets, leaving them more vulnerable to future income or expense shocks which most households experience at least once a year. Children fall behind at school and some students drop out altogether—which jeopardizes their ability to earn a living when they are adults.
Not surprisingly, a huge wave of evictions on top of continued unemployment is a virtual guarantee that recovery from the coronavirus recession will take far longer. If you really want to get angry, and possibly energized into action, check out On The Media's 2019 four-part series "The Scarlet E," which explains how we got here, and suggests ways to fix this mess. Step one: Never vote for Republicans again.
The Census Bureau's weekly "Household Pulse" survey in June found that roughly 20 percent of renters, or about 13 million Americans, had missed their May rent payment. The bureau's most recent report, from mid-July, showed only slight improvement, with about 12.5 million unable to pay rent the previous month. And that was while people were still whooping it up on the full emergency unemployment benefit.
The Democratic stimulus bill passed by the House in May extends the CARES Act's moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures for a full year, and it also keeps the full $600 per week emergency unemployment benefit in place. It also includes $100 billion in emergency rent assistance that could keep people in their homes, although even that amount is probably far short of the need. And of course Republicans wouldn't dream of signing on to that, because losing everything builds character.
Now that Republicans have their initial shitty offer on the table, it's very likely that that some kind of eviction protections will make it into whatever compromise bill ultimately gets passed. But a compromise bill isn't likely to be worked out until next week, by which time plenty of people will already have been served eviction notices. Get some kind of rent assistance into the bill, and the pain would at least be reduced, for some people. Might be a good time for Democrats to make a whole lot of noise about the big giveaways to Donald Trump's hotel business and the defense industry the Republicans did consider worth putting into their bill.
The hellish thing is that none of this had to happen. A rent assistance package could have kept people housed. It would certainly be better for landlords than mass evictions will be, because the pool of renters is going to be poorer for some time now. Then again, it would have been seen as a giveaway to poor people, and America can't have that.
Get angry. Get Active. Don't let the bastards get away with this.
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