A wave of evictions and foreclosures is coming that can throw millions of people into the street. The federal ban on kicking people out of their apartments and houses — which only applied to properties with U.S. government-backed mortgages — has already expired.
So have many of the state and local moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures, although some have been extended into August. As many as 24 million people are at risk of being homeless by the end of September. Part of the Columbus, Ohio, convention center is being turned into an evictions court.
Most of those endangered are Black or Latinx. Asian, Indigenous and poor white families also face disaster.
Figures from the U.S. Census Bureau reveal the size of the looming catastrophe. Close to 24 million families have little or no confidence that they’ll be able to pay their August rent.
Almost 15 million homeowners doubt they can make their August mortgage payment.
Thirty-two percent of families were not able to pay their July rent or mortgage payment on time.
A housing crisis was raging before the coronavirus pandemic erupted. The hundreds of thousands of homeless people living on the street or in shelters are just the tip of the iceberg. In 2019, there were 114,000 homeless students attending New York City schools.
Rent accounts for over half of the budgets of the poorest fifth of all families. Almost one in every two households forked over at least 30 percent of their income to their landlord or the bank holding their mortgage.
High rents force many families to live in overcrowded housing. That’s one reason why so many Black, Indigenous and Latinx people are dying of COVID-19.
None of the overcrowding and rent gouging are the result of a housing shortage. Greedy landlords in New York City keep a quarter million apartments empty in order to jack up the rent. That’s as criminal as hoarding food during a famine.
Thirty million people are unemployed. That’s almost a fifth of the U.S. workforce.
An economic crisis was starting even before the coronavirus hit. Don’t believe the hype about a rapid economic recovery. Many millions will continue to be jobless.
Yet Congress let the $600 weekly supplemental unemployment compensation program die. These payments were used by families to pay their rent or mortgage. What are they supposed to do now?
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Unemployed Councils organized by communists fought evictions. When a sheriff tried to carry out an eviction, dozens or hundreds of council members were there to move a family’s furniture back into their home.
Such actions forced Chicago’s Mayor Anton Cermak to ban evictions. With people on the move, Congress passed a National Housing Act in 1934. It saved many people’s homes from being foreclosed by the banksters.
It has been the Black Lives Matter movement, with millions of people in the street, that forced the capitalist government to do anything at all. Wannabe dictator Trump is trying to crush the struggle by sending his stormtroopers to Portland, Ore.; Seattle; Chicago; Kansas City, Mo.; and elsewhere.
But the heroic Wall of Moms in Portland pushed Trump back. We need a wall of people around the home of every family that the landlords are trying to evict. A wall of people can stop the banksters from stealing a family’s house through foreclosure.
That’s what housing groups and community organizations across the country want to do. They have to be supported. We have to organize, organize, organize!
The labor movement has to speak out, just as many union leaders have endorsed the Black Lives Matter movement.
We need a new solidarity day. The AFL-CIO should call demonstrations demanding a continuation of unlimited $600 per week supplemental unemployment benefits and a halt to evictions and foreclosures.
Nobody’s home is foreclosed nor is anyone ever evicted in socialist Cuba. One of the first acts of the Cuban Revolution was to limit a family’s combined rent and utility bill to no more than 10 percent of their income.
That’s what we need. Landlords and banksters need to be abolished along with the racist police.
We have to fight like Dr. King fought. The power of the people can stop evictions and foreclosures.