By Ted Cox
A Chicago congressman is leading the call for a moratorium on evictions to be extended into next year to deal with continuing economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia of Chicago joined Monday with fellow House member Barbara Lee of California and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in introducing the Protecting Renters From Evictions and Fees Act.
A current eviction moratorium, extended under the CARES Act relief package, is set to expire July 24 and only covers properties under federal programs and loans. The new bill extends the moratorium to March 27 of next year — the anniversary of the CARES Act taking effect — and would cover all renters. It would also prohibit fees, fines, and extra charges due to nonpayment of rent.
According to a news release on the bill, “Even before the coronavirus pandemic, 25 percent of renters had housing costs greater than half of their income. Families already living on the margin are now facing increased economic vulnerability due to COVID-19. Experts are warning that ending the moratorium now could lead to ‘an avalanche of evictions’ as Americans continue to face high unemployment rates — which are as high as 16.8 percent for African Americans and 13.3 percent overall. The latest U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey finds that 30 percent of renters have no or little confidence they can make their next housing payment, and renters of color are disproportionately more likely to be concerned about making their next housing payment.”
“No one should be kicked out of their home during a pandemic, and as existing eviction moratoriums expire it’s more important than ever for Congress to protect renters,” Garcia said in a statement. “Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, and I are introducing the Protecting Renters from Eviction And Fees Act to ensure that no tenant can be evicted.
"My district consists principally of immigrant and working-class communities, and more than half of my constituents are renters,” Garcia added. “As our country faces historic levels of unemployment and with another first of the month around the corner, people in my district are hurting. The last thing they should worry about is having a roof over their head.”
“Renters who have lost their job or had their income reduced shouldn’t have to fear losing their homes in the middle of a pandemic,” Warren said. “Housing is a human right and an absolute necessity to keep families safe during this crisis, and Congress must step in now to help keep people in their homes.”
Lee said that a pandemic was no time to make anyone homeless, adding, “As physical distancing and stay-at-home orders continue, keeping safe means having a home to stay inside. Congress must continue to lead with protection against housing evictions to ensure that all families have a space to live.”
Chicago and Illinois have both established eviction moratoriums, and only last Thursday Gov. Pritzker defended extending the moratorium, saying, “We do not want people to become homeless in this difficult crisis,” and adding that he was working to “balance the interests” of landlords and renters.
June 29, 2020 at 05:52PM