While Senate Republicans “flounder” to even get internal agreement on the next coronavirus relief bill, a proposal Democratic leadership has rejected and which can’t pass without Democrats, next week is going to bring an absolute crisis for tens of millions of Americans.
On top of the extra $600/week unemployment insurance (for those in a position to get UI) expiring, the eviction moratorium for all rental units backed by some form of federal financing as is an extension of the federal school lunch program and other food assistance passed earlier this year to respond to the crisis. State and local governments, hamstrung in what they could do with previous coronavirus funding, are struggling to meet basic funding needs because of decreased revenues and can’t pick up any slack for housing and food assistance. A tsunami of need is about to crash across the country and Mitch McConnell’s main concern is corporate liability immunity.
The eviction moratorium is protecting families on about 12.3 million rental units from eviction. In Texas, where an eviction moratorium ended in May, more than 1,700 evictions were filed just last month. A Census survey found that more than 9 million renters said they probably can’t pay rent next month, and another 14 million were just slightly confident they could. The federal moratorium on evictions ends on Saturday. Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris each have legislation to extend those protections, and expand them to nearly all renters nationwide, not just those in units where the owners have federal loans. Harris’ bill would also prevent utilities from cutting off services and impose a rent freeze.
This comes as a growing number of households are food insecure and already behind on rent. Twenty percent of all renters responding to the Census Bureau”;s weekly Household Pulse Survey said they were behind in rent, about 13.1 million people. That’s 30% of Black renters and 23% of Lantinx renters. Households with children are more than twice as likely to be behind on rent, which means about 7 million children are in danger of being homeless.
Nearly 11% of adults, about 26 million people, in the Household Pulse Survey said that they either sometimes or often didn’t have enough food for the week. In Black and Latinx households, it was much higher–;20% and 19% respectively. As much as 19% of respondents said they didn’t have enough food for their children. That means between 8 and 15 million children who aren’t eating enough.
Which is a great time for free meals through the school lunch program so that students could get meals from whichever school was most convenient, even without having to prove poverty, to expire. The Trump administration could extend this without legislation if it wanted to. But Trump wants to force schools to reopen. “;It”;s impossible. It”;s insane,”; said Katie Wilson, executive director of the Urban School Food Alliance, which represents the largest school districts in the country, including those in New York, Chicago, and Dallas. “;Our districts have been screaming about it. They”;re panicked.”;
It’s bad enough that the tens of millions of people who are getting UI benefits are going to lose the $600/week bump, putting them back on the brink of food and housing insecurity. There are many more jobless Americans who aren’t getting UI at all, who were out of work before the pandemic and so can’t qualify for pandemic relief. It’s people who just finished school or training programs and can’t find jobs. It’s people who left jobs because of illness, or to care for a new baby or ill family member and thought they’d just be taking a short break from work. It’s undocumented people who can’t access any assistance. At the same time, food prices are rising and food need is growing with kids out of school.
If all this isn’t fixed, and fixed soon, the pain will be felt by almost everyone. Unemployment benefits alone accounted for 6% of income in the U.S. in May, a larger share even than Social Security. Economists say that’s why retail spending was solid in May and June, and that has kept the economy going. If the $600/week was extended through the year, some economists project it would create 1 million jobs by the end of the year.
“;It”;s scary, it”;s really scary,”; said Victorita Raaen, 46, from Boise, Idaho reported the AP. She was laid off in March from her job as a light and sound technician. She has a cushion because of the extra payments, but it won’t last. She says that she “;can live on ramen, hot dogs and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a while”; but isn’t sure how she”;ll meet other costs, like transportation. “;I want to go back to work,”; she said. “;I”;d rather go back than sitting here earning unemployment.”;
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