More than seven million Americans could be on the street overnight. US President Joe Biden has not been able to extend a corona eviction freeze.
At five in the morning, Cori Bush posted her first message on Twitter: “This morning felt cold, as if the wind was blowing right through my sleeping bag. Since Friday – when some colleagues preferred to take a vacation instead of evictions by voting to prevent – we are in front of the Capitol. This is an evacuation emergency. Our people need an eviction moratorium. Now. “
Cori Bush is a trained nurse and has been a member of the House of Representatives for the Democrats from Missouri this year. She’s been camping out on Capitol Hill since last Friday. In protest against the fact that millions of tenants in the US could suddenly become homeless.
The US is threatened with mass homelessness
The reason: Last year, the American disease protection agency CDC arranged for evacuation protection due to the corona pandemic. People who were no longer able to pay their rent due to sudden unemployment have not been given notice since then. Also because it was supposed to prevent the virus from spreading faster than it already was due to sudden mass homelessness. This evacuation protection, which was introduced for a limited period, has now expired after the White House obtained two extensions, most recently in June of this year.
The Supreme Court then ruled with a narrow majority of five to four votes that an extension of this tenant protection moratorium by the CDC is not permitted without a bill by Congress. The landlord lobby has successfully challenged the extension. Their argument: They too would have to pay their bills. Around 47 billion US dollars in federal aid would be available to pay the rents from the state if necessary.
Ironically, while the contagion numbers in the USA are exploding with the delta variant of the coronavirus and many millions of people are still not vaccinated, landlords could now terminate their apartments for millions of tenants who are in default through no fault of their own. It is estimated that between seven and eleven million people could be affected.
Republicans block bill
US President Joe Biden had literally last Thursday called on Congress to pass a new law that would stand up in court. A quickly drafted bill by the Democrats, however, failed due to the dissenting votes of the Republicans. The MPs did not even agree on a compromise.
The Democrat Cori Bush, who camped in front of the Capitol, was once homeless herself and only lived in a car on the street with her two children and her partner for a while. Her personal concern gave her protest a certain credibility and shows how drastic the life situation of many Americans is even without Corona.
US MP Cori Bush camps here in the open air. (Source: Reuters)
In an interview with the news channel “NPR” Bush said: “I don’t want anyone to have to go through what I had to go through.” She experienced how every single minute of being homeless felt and what this situation does to a person’s psyche.
Local authorities are trying to respond
Because Congress was unable to reach an agreement, some local administrative districts and states are now responding with their own contingency plans to prevent an impending mass homeless crisis. For example, County DeKalb in the state of Georgia has introduced a two-month local eviction freeze. States such as California, New Jersey and New York also have their own tenant protection plans. The vast majority of states don’t.
In a joint statement, Speaker of the Demorates in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, and other leading Democrats described the aid money now needed to pay the rents as a “moral imperative”. US President Joe Biden is being called on by well-known politicians of his party to work out a solution for the White House, also to avert the further spread of the corona virus. “Science and reason are urgently calling for the moratorium to be extended, also in view of the delta variant,” said the MPs.
“Measures are needed and they have to come from the administration,” write the MPs, playing the ball back to Joe Biden, who apparently shied away from a regulation without legislation by Congress because of the requirements of the Supreme Court.
Should the USA fail in a jurisdiction dispute on this issue, millions of livelihoods would be threatened. Mass unemployment would be followed by mass homelessness. With unforeseeable consequences for society and health. Cori Bush experienced it firsthand. That is why one of her demands to the public seems particularly drastic, but urgent: “We have to save lives.”