The House of Representatives failed to agree to give more time to troubled tenants.
Millions of American families who have not been able to pay their rent for months because of the crisis, risk being evicted from their homes from Saturday, as the moratorium that protected them expires. The elected representatives of the House of Representatives failed on Friday to agree to grant additional time to tenants in difficulty. However, there is an emergency, especially since the Delta variant is once again causing cases of Covid-19 to flare up.
A parliamentary committee had proposed to go until December 31, but the support was not sufficient, including in the Democratic ranks. A reprieve until October 18 was then offered to the discussion. “Unfortunately, not a single Republican supports this measure. (…) It is extremely disappointing that Republicans in the House and Senate have refused to work with us on this issue.”, Lamented Friday evening the Democratic President of the House, Nancy Pelosi, in a press release.
A source in Congress told AFP that the idea is also far from unanimous in the Democratic ranks. “This is a public health concern“, Karine Jean-Pierre, spokesperson for the White House, said earlier Friday during the daily press briefing. The elected representatives of the House of Representatives are now on vacation until the end of August, and will be followed by the senators a week later, removing any hope of a quick agreement.
Joe Biden criticized
More than 10 million people are behind on their rent payments, calculated the CBPP, an independent research institute. And some 3.6 million tenants estimate that they risk being evicted within two months, according to a study by the Bureau of Statistics (Census) carried out in early July with 51 million tenants. President Joe Biden also asked Congress on Thursday to extend this moratorium. But the critics fuse, many reproaching him for having waited until the last moment.
“We’re three days away from the end of the unconstitutional moratorium on CDC expulsions, and what is President Biden’s solution? Blame the Court and Call on Congress to Fix It“, Lamented the Republican vice-president of the House of Representatives Financial Services Commission, Patrick McHenry. He stressed that the Republican members of this commission had established a text to be able to extend the moratorium, but did not receive a response.
This suspension of evictions was put in place in September 2020 by the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), the main public health agency in the United States, and then extended on several occasions. “Keeping people in their homes and out of crowded or gathering places – like homeless shelters – by preventing evictions is a key step to help stop the spread of Covid-19“, Justify the CDC on their website. But a decision of the Supreme Court in June, stipulates that the renewal will have to be passed by Congress, and no longer decided by the CDC.
Late financial aid
This moratorium succeeded the one planned in March 2020 by the Trump administration, to prevent the millions of people who had lost their jobs because of the pandemic from being homeless. But according to the CDC, it “did not affect all tenants“.
To add to this Kafkaesque situation, the money provided by the federal government to help tenants in difficulty pay their rent, barely reaching their bank accounts. The money is in fact paid to states and local communities, which are then responsible for distributing aid to households. However, this requires the establishment of complex systems to collect requests, verify situations, pay out the money … Thus, of the 46 billion dollars planned by the government, including 25 billion disbursed at the beginning of February, only 3 billion have arrived at their destination.
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