Washington, DC – The Senate voted today on a “skinny” coronavirus relief proposal from Senate Republicans that is even more unacceptable than their initially proposed “HEALS Act.” The proposal does nothing to address the urgent health and housing needs of people experiencing homelessness and provides no resources or protections for the estimated 30 million to 40 million people at risk of losing their homes when the federal eviction moratorium expires at the end of the year.
Every day of inaction and political brinkmanship puts more low-income renters at risk of losing their homes. While the federal eviction moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control was long overdue and badly needed, significant emergency rental assistance is needed to prevent renters from falling off of a financial cliff when the moratorium expires and back rent is owed. Without rental assistance, the federal moratorium postpones, but does not prevent, evictions. While state and local governments have cobbled together resources to create or expand rental assistance programs to address the overwhelming backlog of rent, these programs are being rapidly depleted by crushing demand, sometimes in as little as 90 minutes.
Rather than voting on a clearly inadequate bill, Congress and the White House should come back to the negotiating table and enact a comprehensive relief package that provides at least $100 billion in emergency rental assistance to keep low-income renters stably housed and allow small landlords to continue to maintain and operate their properties. Emergency funds are also needed to respond to and prevent outbreaks among people experiencing homelessness, who are at a greater risk of severe illness and death from the virus.
Evicting millions of families during a pandemic is cruel and senseless. When our collective health depends on an ability to stay in our home, we all have a stake in preventing millions of families from being kicked out of theirs. It is long past time for the Senate to stop playing political games and immediately enact the essential housing protections and provisions in the HEROES Act that passed the House over three months ago.