At midnight this past Sunday, millions of renters across the country suddenly lost any federal protection from mass eviction. With a Democratic party controlled House, Senate, and White House: this is unacceptable. There is no other way to put it: The Biden Admin and a segment of the Democratic party has chosen corporate landlords OVER renters.
The past few days have been an exercise in finger pointing and passing the buck among the Executive and Legislative branches. First the Biden Administration feigned powerlessness and suggested Congress should extend the moratorium. Then the House went on a 7-week summer vacation without extending the moratorium. Speaker Pelosi then passed the buck back to the Administration and just today the Administration blamed cities and states for not distributing rent relief. If you listen to these folks everyone else is at blame but themselves.
We are tired of the finger pointing. There is no time to waste. We need immediate action from our elected leaders — not more words and blame.
We applaud the few members of Congress led by Rep. Cori Bush that have been sleeping on the Capitol steps with housing activists to demand the House reconvene and address the looming eviction crisis.
Right to the City Alliance calls for 1) an immediate extension of a universal eviction moratorium until the COVID pandemic is truly over, 2) rent & utility debt cancellation, not insufficient rent relief and, 3) long-term community-controlled housing solutions.
This moratorium deadline was not a surprise. We’ve known for a month that without action from the federal government, millions would be at risk of eviction. Yet, there is no plan in place to address this housing crisis except for distribution of rent relief that has been moving at a snail’s pace. What’s more is this very rent relief, budgeted by Congress and the Biden Administration, is both not nearly enough to fit the scale of the problem, and not getting into the hands of Black, Indigenous, people of color and working-class renters who need it the most. Only 6.5% of federally-budgeted rent relief has been distributed in the last 6 months. Our elected officials have left millions in the lurch.
Countless cases have been documented where states, counties, and cities have not been able to get rent relief distributed. In some states, resources have been misused to fund policing and prisons, or given directly to landlords who have still moved to evict tenants. It is clear to us that the majority of federal housing policies are shortsighted, underfunded, have already contributed to this crisis and will make it significantly worse, and oriented to force renters to prove we are worthy of shelter. The policy options we urgently need must be guided by the values that housing is both a human right and a collective responsibility. This is the only way forward.
We are facing a housing crisis like we haven’t seen in decades. Thousands are already being evicted from their homes. Yet some of the solutions we desperately need are already being moved at the local level. Organizations like Chainbreaker Collective in Santa Fe, New Mexico have managed to ensure rent relief is distributed swiftly and without the mountains of red tape holding back programs across the country. Chainbreaker Collective did it with the focus of getting rent relief to the people who are best positioned to use it: Renters. They focused on direct cash assistance and ensured it was no-strings-attached — making it truly universal and able to get to people who are otherwise systematically excluded.
It is time for our federal, state, and local governments to implement the bold housing solutions that are already working — and being led by the organized Black, Indigenous, people of color and working-class renters impacted by the housing crisis. It is time to invest in protecting renters to stay in our homes, and in community-controlled housing solutions for the long-run. Right to the City Alliance is committed to defend and care for each other — will our elected leaders do the same?
Monday, August 2nd 2021
The Beyond Recovery campaign is initiated by the Homes For All campaign and the Right To The City Alliance. Homes For All is a grassroots people’s movement fighting to win permanent, dignified and affordable homes for all people.