Rep. Gil Cisneros wants to see the federal government offer additional protections for renters, as the United States continues to struggle through the coronavirus pandemic.
At the end of August, Cisneros joined a coalition of House members to demand the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Treasury, and Agriculture provide more protections for renters. They called for a robust eviction moratorium and federal funding to help renters.
In a letter sent to the departments, Cisneros and the group of representatives said their demands would help avoid a “tsunami of evictions.”
“The executive order the President issued on August 8, 2020 has done nothing thus far to prevent evictions and homelessness. Instead, the executive order may harm renters by misleading them into believing that they are protected when they are not,” the members wrote in their letter. “We strongly urge you to use existing authorities at HUD, the Department of the Treasury, and the. Department of Agriculture to implement sweeping eviction moratoriums and deploy other federal funding or policy remedies to stem the tide of this oncoming “tsunami” of evictions.”
In early September, President Donald Trump issued an executive order through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that banned certain evictions. But the order is being enforced differently throughout the country, and people are still getting kicked out of their homes.
According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the United States could see between 30 to 40 million evictions by the end of 2020 without significant help from the federal government.
“The United States may be facing the most severe housing crisis in its history,” NLIH wrote in their report published in August. “The COVID-19 housing crisis has sharply increased the risk of foreclosure and bankruptcy, especially among small property owners; long-term harm to renter families and individuals; disruption of the affordable housing market; and destabilization of communities across the United States.”
Housing is especially important when it comes to public health. One of the simplest ways of avoiding exposure to COVID-19 is by staying home and avoiding contact with others. Losing access to safe housing makes this basic step very difficult. For individuals and families in the US, losing their housing could be potentially catastrophic.
“Evictions risk lives, drive families deeper into poverty, further burden overstretched health care systems, and make it much more difficult for the country to contain the coronavirus,” Cisneros and the coalition wrote. “The price of inaction is far greater than the cost of providing essential rental assistance to households at risk of eviction and homelessness. Keeping Americans affordably and stably housed during this pandemic is both a moral imperative and a public health necessity.”
Other housing advocacy groups have also voiced their concern over the lack of federal help for renters.
“It is reckless and irresponsible for the [Trump] administration to walk away from negotiations at a time when millions of renters are struggling to keep their homes and, with it, their ability to keep themselves and their families safe,” Diane Yentel, President and CEO of NLIHC said in a statement. “President Trump and Congress must restart negotiations immediately and enact a robust relief package to address the urgent housing and health needs of America’s lowest-income renters and people experiencing homelessness. In the meantime, the Trump administration should use every authority they have to ensure that no one is kicked out of their home during a pandemic.”