Jan 4, 2021
A major housing crisis is building up in this country. Nationally, an estimated 14 million households, with at least 30 to 40 million people, are at risk for eviction, according to the New York Times. So far, the big wave of evictions has been forestalled because of a temporary federal moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on residential evictions. The CDC issued this moratorium to prevent the spread of COVID‑19 through people isolating themselves in their homes. But this moratorium is set to expire at the end of January, with some states, like New York and California, extending the moratoriums for a few months more.
But for the 60,000 families that have already been evicted this year, the crisis has already begun. Some renters were evicted before the moratorium started in early September. Some failed to qualify for the moratorium because they did not sign a declaration of their inability to pay, or because their landlord challenged their claim to financial hardship. Some renters have had to leave their homes despite the ban being in place.
Currently, estimates are that renters owe close to 100 billion dollars in back rent. The problem is that once the moratoriums end, the renters who are behind with their rent will be required to come up with the lump sum that they owe. For most workers, this will obviously be impossible. That could mean the start of waves of evictions throughout the country ‑ much bigger than the terrible housing crisis that struck during the last big recession in 2007 to 2008. It could mean record levels of homelessness.
Of course, the news media is blaming this latest housing crisis on the pandemic. But the fact is that there was a terrible housing crisis long before the pandemic hit at the beginning of the year. Every year there were on average about 3.7 million evictions. In many parts of the country, especially the big urban areas, rents were rising much faster than incomes. Around 21 million renter households (close to 50% of all renter households) were already considered “rental cost‑burdened.” And when the pandemic began, 11 million renter households (25% of all renter households) were already spending over 50% of their income on rent each month. This pandemic only made the ongoing housing crisis worse.
Needless to say, the Federal government, which has spent trillions of dollars over the last year in bailout after bailout, has done almost nothing to alleviate this problem. Almost all of the bailout money has been used to bail out big companies and the super‑rich.
Under capitalism, the sole right is the right to profit at all costs. This capitalist system does not recognize housing as a social right. Only a fight organized by the workers against this system can save our homes and our survival.