There are those who believe that by
2021, the eviction pandemic will be one of the most persistent and
damaging problem that facing the people of the United States and
their elected officials.
problem is just beginning and the unemployment numbers are climbing,
but worse, the underemployment figures are going to be climbing as
well. In the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, everything seems to be
collapsing, financial, economic, and political. The rich, however,
are making out like the veritable bandits they are.
the federal government would stop bailing out the rich and Corporate
America and start giving the relief money directly to the people,
there might be a chance that the nation will somehow survive and
regain some semblance of normality, although a return to pre-pandemic
“normal” is not likely. The people will just have to
adjust to a new normal and it won’t be easy. For one thing,
everyone will have to begin getting accustomed to doing with less, as
they are during the pandemic.
might not have to be sequestered in their homes, as most of them are,
but they have learned to do with much less in the way of material
goods. In food, however, the people should not have to sacrifice a
nourishing diet, especially for their children, because there is
plenty of food to go around, but the way the national government and
state governments are set up, there are food deserts and places where
people don’t have easy transportation to and from supermarkets
and other stores. And, there simply is not enough money to buy
groceries if there were supermarkets close by.
simple look at the problem shows us that joblessness, homelessness,
evictions, hunger, and a lack of steady education for children are
mostly caused by the same thing: a lack of money. In other developed
countries, the governments have been set up to care for just about
all of the people, especially the working poor, the poor, and those
unable to work. And, of course, all of this in the U.S. is compounded
by the lack of universal health care, as most other “first
world” nations have.
widespread poverty in a nation is not an accident, it is also not an
accident that the Great United States does not care for the health of
its most vulnerable people. There are fortunes to be made in failing
to provide a system of health care and there’s the rub. Just as
the U.S. has a “military-industrial complex,” it has a
“corporate-congressional-medical complex” and, if the
numbers were crunched, that amount might be just as much as the
military and “defense” industries.
reports in the mass press have pointed out that even as the American
people are suffering in this moribund economy, the rich are raking in
the money by the billions, not the least of which is coming from the
“pandemic relief.” Those funds should have gone to the
people and to small businesses, but have gone largely to big
corporations, however it was that they wangled the pandemic relief
the politicians have done, especially the Republicans in the
Congress, the money has not reached the people and the eviction tidal
wave that’s coming is going to cause big problems. As is usual,
single mothers with one or two small children are the hardest hit.
Image having no job prospects, no safe child care, and seeing your
furniture and what little you own taken to the street and a new lock
put on your door. No amount of political flim-flam is going to solve
the problem of mass evictions.
for the Monthly Review Online from Manhattan, Michael R. McBrearty
wrote of the coming eviction crisis on Sept. 2:
The workers will necessarily need
to demand a cancellation of that debt and a permanent freeze on
evictions in response. In 2008, during the last economic crisis,
millions lost properties to foreclosure. Though low income, they
were, at least to some extent, people with something to lose. In the
2021 crisis, in contrast, the renters thrown out on the street will
have nothing to lose. The class question will be posed most starkly.
One side, one class or the other, must win or lose.
Across the nation, the fight for
housing security has already become a part of the general struggle
against inequality made possible by the epochal rise of the Black
Lives Matter movement. And that makes sense. Nationally, 80 percent
of evictions are against people of color. The most frequent victim of
housing displacement is a woman of color with children. In New York
in 2018, for example, according to Census Bureau figures, the zip
codes with the highest number of evictions - all in the Bronx or
Brooklyn - were all minority neighborhoods.
intertwining of all of these issues has been made crystal clear by
the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement, even if those who
started BLM didn’t realize the support it would have or the
breadth of support among people across the board, no matter what
their station in life. But what is missing is that, unless proponents
of all of the change organizations are going to form under the
umbrella of BLM, there must be another organization formed that will
include them. And they are many, too many to count. Even though BLM
has become broad-based and powerful (or the ruling class would not be
so afraid of it), The organization needed is one that will be able to
match the power of Corporate America, the right-wingers in Congress
and the state legislatures, and the white supremacists and their
enablers. Eventually, that organization will have to become
political, in that it will have to express political power, through
elected offices across the country, from town, village, and city
offices to the congressional posts. The alternative, which would be
political power through the power of money, is not likely.
cites the anti-eviction actions of the 1930s, in the time of the
Great Depression, before the administration of Franklin Delano
Roosevelt and his works programs that were designed to get the money
directly to families and to provide something of value to the nation
in the process. The Works Progress Administration (WPA), which in
1939 was renamed the Work Projects Administration – employed
millions of mostly unskilled men to carry out public works
infrastructure projects. They built more than 4,000 new school
buildings, erected 130 new hospitals, laid roughly 9,000 miles of
storm drains and sanitary sewer lines, built 29,000 new bridges,
constructed 150 new airfields, paved or repaired 280,000 miles of
roads and planted 24 million trees. The unemployment rate had been 20
percent in the depths of the depression.
1935, the WPA employed 350,000 black Americans, about 15 percent of
its total workforce. The Federal Music and Theatre projects also
supported black musicians and actors. The WPA made significant
contributions to the preservation of African American culture and
history with the Federal Writers’ Project. The program
collected interviews, articles and notes on African American life in
the South, including oral histories from former slaves.
untold numbers of families, the small weekly stipends that went
directly to the people were the difference between keeping their
homes and being evicted or foreclosed. The Civilian Conservation
Corps was a similar New Deal program, primarily for rural areas,
where unemployment was even higher. Eviction and foreclosure was
always a worry for the working class and the people had to find ways
to prevent mass evictions and foreclosures.
rural areas, the people did, indeed, find ways to stop foreclosures.
When it was commonly known that a foreclosure auction was to be held
at a particular farm, scores or hundreds of farmers showed up, some
of them armed, and when the bidding started, there wasn’t a
first bid and the sale was over. That’s not to suggest that
this is how the current urban eviction wave will end, but there
already are signs that tenant associations and BLM supporters and
others will be there when poor folk are about to lose their homes. It
doesn’t matter that evictions and rents may be delayed for the
duration of the pandemic, either by President Trump or any of the
governors. If they do that, there will come a time when the full
rents have to be paid. For working poor or poor, there will be no
money to pay for any of it.
has proposed “helping” workers by deferring the payroll
tax, which are levied to finance Social Security, the hospital
insurance portion (Part A) of Medicare, and the federal unemployment
insurance program, but beware. It eventually would have to be paid
back by the worker at the end of a set period. In this, Trump will
have set in motion a way to reduce Social Security and Medicare
benefits and cut into the federal part of unemployment benefits. He
could do this to the people by deferring rents and mortgage payments
for the duration of the pandemic.
is a solution. During this time of rampant unemployment, lack of a
job market that pays a living wage, and the pandemic, rents and
mortgages must be forgiven. The rich landlords and the banks, which
have been the beneficiaries of much government largesse, will just
have to settle for what they can get (in the same way Trump has
always done business, making workers, contractors, and his lenders
scratch for the money he owed).