The COVID-19 crisis has put many people’s lives as well as livelihoods at risk. Unemployment claims climbed to over 10 million in the course of two weeks. One poll showed that more than half of Americans under 45 have lost their jobs. As a result, people have been unable to pay rent. This month the National Multifamily Housing Council said more than a third of renters in the U.S. hadn’t fully paid rent through April 5. This all means that millions of people have been put in an impossible situation.
In response, the federal government has done nothing for renters or mortgage holders. The Consumer and Financial Protection Bureau has posted advice for managing the personal financial impact of coronavirus, as if people are looking for their “advice.” Their site states “regulators have encouraged financial institutions to work with their customers to meet their community needs.” For the more than 1/3 of renters that are unable to pay this month, “advice” and “encouragement” has not been enough. Some state and local governments have put in place a variety of anti-eviction ordinances, but they all fall short since all require that rent is eventually paid back in full. Will all of our lost wages be paid back in full?
No one should be at risk of losing housing or being unable to afford basic necessities. This crisis exposes what has always been true, that this system puts people in unfair and impossible situations. Our society has the means to feed, house and support all during this crisis, but as we’ve seen, politicians and capitalists won’t put those resources where they are needed. Poor and working people will have to organize to fight to get what we need.
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