Millions of Americans risk eviction – and being homeless – after Congress fails to act - GulfToday

Millions of Americans risk eviction – and being homeless – after Congress fails to act


People camp out to highlight the upcoming expiration of the federal moratorium on evictions in Washington. Reuters

Gulf Today Report

Millions of Americans could find themselves homeless starting on Sunday as a coronavirus-related US government ban on residential evictions expired at midnight on Saturday.

Despite a late push by President Joe Biden amid the raging Delta variant, the US Congress failed to vote on legislation extending the ban that shielded millions of renters from being forced out of homes.


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This against a backdrop of surging coronavirus cases and political fingerpointing as billions in government funds meant to help renters are still untapped.

But Republicans baulked at Democratic efforts to extend the eviction ban through mid-October, and the House of Representatives adjourned for its summer vacation on Friday without renewing it.

US Representative Cori Bush holds up her phone while live streaming from the chair in Washington. Reuters

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said blocking the measure was "an act of pure cruelty... leaving children and families out on the streets," in a tweet late Saturday.

Several left-wing Democrats had spent the night outside the Capitol in protest – calling out their colleagues over the failure to act.

Lawmakers said they were blindsided by President Joe Biden’s inaction as the deadline neared, some furious that he called on Congress to provide a last-minute solution to protect renters. The rare division between the president and his party carried potential lasting political ramifications.

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., the chair of the Financial Services Committee, said on Saturday on CNN: "We thought that the White House was in charge.”

Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., camped outside the Capitol, said: "I don’t plan to leave before some type of change happens."

President Joe Biden speaks during an event. File photo

"We are only hours away from a fully preventable housing crisis,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., during a floor speech in a rare Saturday session as senators labored over an infrastructure package.

"We have the tools and we have the funding," Warren said. "What we need is the time.”

With the clock ticking down to Sunday, the country was braced for a heartbreaking spectacle – families with their belongings at the curbside wondering where to go.

Roxanne Schaefer stands outside of her apartment building in West Warwick. AP

Roxanne Schaefer, already suffering from myriad health issues, including respiratory problems and a bone disorder, is one of the millions fearing homelessness.

"I got anxiety. I’m nervous. I can’t sleep,” said Schaefer, of West Warwick, Rhode Island, over fears of being thrown out on the street. "If he does, you know, I lose everything, and I’ll have nothing. I’ll be homeless.”



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