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Posts Tagged ‘COVID’

End of the CDC Eviction Moratorium is an Emergency that must be Addressed!

Written by admin on . Posted in Press Releases

****UPDATE****

Eek! A big old thunderstorm is rolling in. Anyone outdoors in DC please be safe! Press event will be rescheduled. DC City, STOP THE SWEEPS! People need their survival gear!

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The National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) and the National Organization for Women (NOW), along with advocates, tenants, and community leaders will gather on September 16 at 4:30 p.m. in front of the National Governors Association building to push for the prevention of anyone falling into homelessness. There will be a press conference at 5 p.m. at the same location at 444 North Capitol Street NW in DC with those facing eviction and community leaders urging immediate action to stop evictions.  

Flyer calling for a stop to evictions, including extending eviction moratoria and expediting rental assistance. Thursday, September 16, 2021 at 4:30pm outside the National Governors Association, 444 North Capitol St NW in Washington DC

“The homeless social service sector cannot accommodate any more people during this national health emergency with rising levels of COVID-19 in many communities. There are millions of dollars sitting on the table from the federal government and we need state and local officials to move mountains to get rental assistance out to those facing evictions,” said NCH executive director Donald Whitehead.  

In August, CNBC reported 11 million households are behind on their rent, but even if only 1 million get evicted the homeless shelters and services will collapse. Whitehead said that shelters have had to de-concentrate due to the pandemic and do not have the means of taking more people in to provide a safe place to stay while they look to find other housing options.  

We are urging the Governors to do whatever they can to stop any evictions into homelessness or they will see the huge rise in those living outside that Washington DC, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Miami, Austin, and Phoenix have seen over the last year.  

The Problem

As of Thursday, August 26, 2021, the federal moratorium on evictions related to COVID was lifted. As many as 35 million people in the United States, whose livelihoods have been negatively impacted by pandemic-related economic shut down, are at risk of homelessness. 

What’s more, there are hundreds of thousands of people and families who were placed into hotel rooms with CARES Act funding that is due to expire. Many of these folks will be forced back onto the streets, and into congregate shelters, with desperately increased risk of contracting COVID.

This is a massive economic and public health crisis, disproportionately affecting people of color. We must protect individuals and families – and especially our children and youth.

What we Know

Without safe housing, millions of people will be forced into congregate settings, increasing the risk of transmitting COVID-19, at a time when hospitals are operating at capacity.  

Lack of capacity at the state and local level, combined with bureaucratic red tape, has prevented up to 75% of aid from the Federal government from reaching renters and desperate to maintain their housing. 

Even though it is illegal, there is the danger that families forced back into homelessness risk losing custody of their children. Studies have shown overwhelmingly that safe housing has more to do with a child’s wellbeing and achievement than any other single factor. 

People who are unhoused face targeted enforcement and criminalization of life-sustaining activities. This over-criminalization separates families, eliminates employment options and further jeopardizes the mental and physical health of those affected.

What has been done

Through the CARES Act and the American Recovery Plan, the federal government has allocated over $85 Billion to housing and homelessness programs, including $25 billion specifically for Emergency Housing Vouchers. Many communities have used these recovery dollars to house folks temporarily in hotel and motel rooms, and further secure individual housing accommodations. But many of these programs are closing and people are being returned to congregate shelters or the streets.

The U.S. Treasury has provided explicit direction to local agencies distributing funds to allow renters and landlords to attest to their need without onerous documentation. The U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA), Health and Human Services (HHS), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Veterans Affairs (VA) have also taken action to protect and support vulnerable renter households. The Secretaries of HUD and Treasury, along with the Attorney General, wrote a letter to governors, mayors, county Executives, and chief Justices and state court administrators to issue their own moratoria, stay evictions while rental assistance applications process, and use ERA and State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to enhance tenant access to legal representation. 

But we know that landlords and eviction courts are eager to start processing evictions that have been held up. We know too that without legal representation, tenants overwhelmingly are not able to exercise their full rights to remain in housing.

What we Need

NOW and NCH are urging local and state elected officials to assign additional staff, enlist every housing non-profit in their communities to get this money to the people in need! Additionally, struggling Americans need:

  • Congress to pass legislation halting any eviction until ERA and Recovery applications are fully processed. 
  • Emergency Rental Assistance and other recovery programs should assume presumptive eligibility, instead of forcing long drawn out documentation of need. 
  • Landlords should get paid all back rent, either through direct payment and/or tax credit within 30 days.
  • There needs to be broad civic education on renter rights and eviction and homelessness prevention, in addition to ending and addressing the underlying causes of poverty and homelessness.

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The National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH), founded in 1981, is the oldest national organization focused on ending homelessness in America.  It is a national network of people currently experiencing or who have experienced homelessness, activists and advocates, community-based and faith-based service providers, and others committed to their mission of: To end and prevent homelessness while ensuring the immediate needs of those experiencing homelessness are met and their civil rights protected. NCH’s advocacy addresses the root causes of homelessness including lack of affordable housing, and partnering to write landmark legislation including the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987. 


The National Organization for Women is the largest grassroots organization of feminist activists in the United States. NOW has hundreds of thousands of contributing supporters and members in chapters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Since its founding in 1966, NOW’s purpose is to take action through intersectional grassroots activism to promote feminist ideals, lead societal change, eliminate discrimination, and achieve and protect the equal rights of all women and girls in all aspects of social, political, and economic life.

Livable Incomes, and other ways to fix unemployment

Written by admin on . Posted in Blog

Has the Federal Emergency Unemployment Insurance contributed to vacant jobs being unfulfilled? Depending upon who you talk to, the response will be different. One thing we do know, unemployment benefits are temporary and does not provide long term stability compared to employment. Millions of jobs are left unfilled, and here are a few reasons why:

The federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 per hour since 2009. That rate has not kept up with the pace of inflation while corporation revenue increase drastically. An employee at a Missouri hospital received a $6 coupon after surviving COVID. The CEO of the firm that owns the hospital received $30 million. CEOs of public U.S. firms earn 320 times as much as workers. Even some CEOS say the gap is too big. (nbcnews.com)

In this capitalistic society, money does not trickle from the bottom upward. It doesn’t even trickle down from the top in some cases. COVID has opened the eyes of the poor like nothing ever seen in this lifetime. Income, housing, health care, civil rights, and education are all issues that let America know, you are either sitting at the table, or you are part of the menu. Time for all of us to bring our own chairs, pull up, and break bread together in the spirit of reconciliation. Here’s how we can achieve that and close the wealth gap:

See also a previous post on the state governors who are ending federal unemployment benefits early for their residents. Email Kelvin Lassiter, Policy Analyst at klassiter@nationalhomeless.org for more details.

Sacramento: Falling Further Behind in Housing Justice

Written by Brian Davis on . Posted in Blog

The state capital for the most populous state in the union, Sacramento, has struggled with how to serve the large number of people living below the poverty level and able to afford basic housing for years; then the pandemic hit. Sacramento used federal dollars to purchase hotel/motel space during the pandemic, but these spaces were used mainly to deconcentrate the overflowing shelters as opposed to housing people without any shelter. Other cities were able to house those living outside a space in a motel room and successfully reduced the number of people living rough. Due to overwhelming demand and a lack of coordination/planning by the city, Sacramento has actually seen a rise in the outdoor population over the last year. In late January 2021, government inaction saw real consequences with as many as 6 people living outside losing their lives after a horrible wind storm hit the city. 

Sacramento, CA, has a relatively high poverty rate of 13.9% and a higher-than-average unemployment rate of 7.1%. The waiting list for a Housing Choice Voucher in Sacramento is typically 4 to 5 YEARS. According to the local ABC affiliate from April to December 2020, there were 4,600 calls to the social services helpline (3-1-1) about homeless people – up from 500 in 2015. Sacramento also has an extremely high cost for basic housing, pricing families and those working in the service sector out of the market. Further, the transportation system is not designed to bring workers into the area where jobs are located from lower rent areas of the community. 

The problem is that the situation in Sacramento, and many other cities across the country, was so out of control that when a deadly virus hit the emergency safety net crumbled. Because Sacramento had not sufficiently dealt with the housing emergency for decades, an already taxed system had no ability to stretch to serve new people seeking help.  The county was able to keep COVID deaths relatively low, compared to other similarly sized counties, but in order to do so, city services left a large number of people outside.  

Beginning in September 2020, the city began “public health” cleanups of the camp sites to avoid calling them law enforcement sweeps. I talked to Crystal Sanchez of the Sacramento Union of the Homeless, a local advocate who works tirelessly to keep in contact with those living outside. She has worked to get supplies, food, trash collection, port-a-potties, and mobile showers to those who are not able to stay indoors. Sanchez leads the local chapter of the National Union of the Homeless, a national movement that first started in 1985. Homeless advocates in Sacramento have formed a community for protection and to amplify their voices. They have appointed leaders in the encampments who then report to Sanchez any issues or problems they are facing.

Crystal Sanchez delivering supplies to those living outdoors.

The biggest frustration among those advocating for those outside is the “all talk and no action” among elected leaders. The addiction services and mental health system has been nearly unavailable to those without housing since the pandemic. Sanchez estimates around 11,000 people are on the streets at any one time with tents everywhere. Sanchez says that community opposition to bringing homeless people into hotels (based on fear and misinformation) has contributed to the rise in street homelessness – even when most hotels were sitting empty early on in the pandemic shutdown. Social workers are overwhelmed and still working remotely.  

Despite court fights and protests, and the CDC guidelines urging a pause in any sweeps during the pandemic, city officials have continued to displace those living outdoors. As in many cities, agencies from law enforcement to park rangers have been trashing what few possessions those who stay outside still have, and further displacing vulnerable and already displaced people. There is no one listening to the voices of those who are without housing. No one is addressing the high cost of housing or the pandemic related job losses. The problems faced by those without housing are only complicated by the pandemic. For example, when a homeless individual encounters law enforcement, it is highly likely that the police will “lose” the person’s identification when they are arrested. It is extremely difficult to replace identification when most government offices are shut down to visitors seeking services. While the city has done a good job in vaccinating the overall population against COVID, they really did not have special plans for the unique challenges of those without a residence living outside. There are still issues of shelter oversight, and things like overly restrictive shelter policies. There is a great deal of distrust of the social service system among advocates and those staying outside because of the lack of accountability built into the continuum of care. 

There are so many needs in Sacramento, but no one ever asks the people experiencing homelessness what those needs are and then goes about filling those gaps in services. Please read the below poem written by Crystal Sanchez expressing what she and her neighbors are experiencing:

Die In

by Crystal Sanchez
President of Sacramento Homeless Union/ SAC SOUP

Today I came out to my very conservative parents…… I became homeless
Today I was a victim of domestic violence…. I became homeless
Today my family member was murdered by law enforcement…….. I became homeless
Today I was assaulted…… I became homeless
Today my slumlord evicted me…….I became homeless

Today I lost my job……. I became homeless
Today I at 80 years old fell and broke my hip and won’t be home for 3 months ……..I will be homeless
Today I was involved in a fire I lost everything…… I became homeless
Today is the 11th month of a pandemic…… in which I became homeless
Today I locked the door for the last time in my small business which didn’t survive the pandemic …….I will become homeless

Today is the last day for the moratorium to pass for rent……. I may become homeless.
Today I was released from jail for a past mistake ………I became homeless.
Today I buried my spouse my children and …….I became homeless
Today a new policy came out to remove me…. Where do I go?…… I am homeless

Maybe today will be the day I connect to the right resources. It’s been 20 years I have done my due diligence the best I can …..and I can’t stay connected. 
Am I invisible? Can YOU see me? Can YOU hear me? Hello??? Can you help me PLEASE….. Why are you calling me names ?? Why are you throwing things at me?…. Don’t you understand, I’m just like you? NO wait please…. Don’t call the police….. What did I do? I’m sorry, I needed a place dry to rest… There is no where to go!…. Officer where can I go? Why are you taking all my things??….. It’s cold …..It is wet …..Please…. not my tent….He says move along….. The emptiness, the trauma and re enforced trauma….the fear… the wind and rain….. Darkness……it’s cold…God, please help me….

Today, like everyday, I  wasn’t accepted. I was rejected…. I am homeless
As we warned everyday….Today the weather dropped into dangerous numbers and today the streets took a life…it took my life …..The life of someone who once became homeless
Today I became a statistic….because I was homeless.

Today, I ask you comrades to raise your fists and continue this fight with us in solidarity with the 11,000 adults and 700+ kids unhoused neighbors who call the streets of Sacramento home.

Today, I asked you brothers and sisters to chant with me we will do the chants two times
Let us start with the first one.
I will say, 
“Too much cold too much heat”
You will say
“No more death on the street”

Second one
I will say: 
“What do we want?”

You will say,
“Housing”
I will say, 
“When do want it?”

You will say, 
“NOW MAY OUR UNHOUSED REST IN POWER AND MAY WE REMEMBER MOVEMENT MEANS MOVE. FORWARD TOGETHER NOT ONE STEP BACK!”

THANK YOU.
-Crystal Sanchez
President of Sacramento Homeless Union/ SAC SOUP

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