The coronavirus pandemic has attacked hardworking Americans physically, emotionally and economically. Millions have contracted the illness while tens of millions more worry about the health of themselves and their families. Meanwhile, many more have lost their jobs and are facing eviction.
As part of the CARES Act approved by Congress in late March, people were barred from being evicted from their homes if they couldn’t pay rent or their mortgage. But that ended (along with a $600 per week unemployment insurance bonus) at the end of the July. And because Senate Republicans have refused to move a bill forward to help workers, tens of millions of workers and their families could be thrown out on the streets.
A survey by the U.S. Census Bureau found 26.5 percent of Americans are housing insecure, meaning they either couldn’t pay their rent or mortgage last month or have no confidence they will be able to next month. This nation faces a crisis of having millions of newly homeless families at a time when COVID-19 is running rampant.
Among those facing eviction are Natasha Blunt, a New Orleans resident who currently lives in a two-bedroom apartment with her two grandchildren. Blunt told the Associated Press she owes thousands of dollars in back rent after she lost her banquet porter job. She has yet to receive her stimulus check and has not been approved for unemployment benefits. Her family is getting by with food stamps and the charity of neighbors.
“I can’t believe this happened to me because I work hard,” said Blunt, whose eviction is at the mercy of the federal moratorium. “I don’t have any money coming in. I don’t have nothing. I don’t know what to do. … My heart is so heavy.”
Her voice is just one of the tens of millions in the same boat. It is unacceptable that so many working Americans who have played by the rules their whole lives are now facing being kicked out of their homes because the Republican-run Senate refuses to get its act together. It’s yet another example of GOP lawmakers showing where their priorities lie – they jump to attention to serve their corporate masters but refuse to assist their constituents.
A $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed in May by Democrats in the House would provide about $175 billion to pay rents and mortgages, but the $1 trillion counter from Senate Republicans only has several billion in rental assistance.
America didn’t become the nation it is by turning its own out on the streets. It’s time to extend unemployment insurance and continue the eviction moratorium so everyday Americans can keep a roof over their heads during this difficult time.