No one should be forced to pay their rent during the pandemic, according to “squad” member Rep. Cori Bush, a freshman Democrat from Missouri.
Bush said Saturday that she spent Friday night on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and was planning to stay as her way to pressure Congress to return and extend a federal ban on evictions, according to the Washington Times.
A ban on evictions was among the coronavirus relief measures passed in the spring of 2020 when lockdowns led to employers closing their doors, leaving millions unable to pay their rent. Since then, the economy has largely reopened and long-term unemployment has lessened.
However, Bush on Saturday was demanding that members of Congress cancel their planned vacation and return to Washington to extend the moratorium, which expired Saturday night.
“I’m asking my colleagues to show up. They can come back to D.C. Let’s go back to work. Some people never left,” she said, according to the Times.
“We’re waiting to hear that the moratorium has been extended, and if we don’t hear that, then I’m still here.
“People could be forced from their homes, and some of them as early as tomorrow,” she said. “It’s something that Congress or the White House (or) the CDC can change. They can affect it right now.”
The Supreme Court has ruled that it would take an act of Congress to extend the ban on evictions. Bush did not elaborate on how the CDC or White House might act.
One commentator said racism is to blame for people unable to pay the rent even amid the unprecedented waves of cash bestowed upon Americans in the form of coronavirus relief.
“Our nation’s long history of racism and discrimination has created unequal opportunities for people of color, putting them at greater risk of housing instability, evictions and homelessness,” said Alicia Mazzara, a senior research analyst on the housing policy team at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, according to CNBC.
The National Association of Realtors, however, has said that landlords need to be paid, just as everyone else does, according to The Hill.
“Nearly half of all rental housing in America is a mom-and-pop operation, and these providers cannot continue to live in a state of financial hardship,” said Shannon McGahn, the group’s chief advocacy officer.
President Joe Biden said Friday he would like to see states help renters avoid paying their bills.
New York is among those states, but landlords are suing Gov. Andrew Cuomo and trying to get the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their case.
“This eviction moratorium law also compels owners to convey the government’s message, against the owners’ wishes and interests, by forcing them to supply a government-drafted notice and declaration form instructing tenants on how to forestall eviction and evade paying rent, as well as a government-curated list of legal service providers who are available to assist tenants in doing so,” the lawsuit said.
“At the same time, New York has now lifted virtually all of its other COVID restrictions, with Governor Cuomo last month declaring the State’s ‘disaster emergency’ over because of New York’s dramatic progress against COVID-19.
“The State cannot declare that the emergency is over, on the one hand, and continue to use that same ’emergency’ to justify the ongoing implementation of a law that infringes upon its citizens’ constitutional rights, on the other,” the lawsuit said.
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