Eviction moratorium extension is a victory, but it’s not enough
From left, Rep. Mondaire Jones, D-N.Y., Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., and Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., celebrate the announcement that the Biden administration will enact a targeted nationwide eviction moratorium outside of Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021. | Amanda Andrade-Rhoades / AP

“Which side are you, people? Which side are you on?” The Capitol steps echoed with the uplifted voices of the gathered protesters, voices harmonizing in solidarity. The crowd’s exuberant, powerful energy belied the fact that they had been there for days, many of them sleeping outside in the harsh August weather in protest of the expiration of the eviction moratorium.

Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri spearheaded this campaign when she began sleeping on the steps Saturday night, the day before the moratorium ended, calling attention to the injustice of the situation. Many others soon joined her, the crowd swelling quickly as people brought food and water and blankets for those who were sitting in.

Unsurprisingly, those gathered had to deal with harassment from the cops, the very organization purportedly tasked with protecting them. Police told protesters they were not allowed to sit, not allowed to move away from their bags, not allowed to sing, not allowed to lie down! Despite the harassment, the protest remained strong and even continued, with the singing of workers’ anthems and gospel calls for freedom.

On the fifth day of the protest, the Biden administration announced that there will be a targeted eviction moratorium for people living in “substantial and high levels of community transmission,” which at this point is over 90% of the United States. This extension postpones evictions for tenants in the “hot zones” until the beginning of October.

Several influential leaders in this movement, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and others, made appearances to show their support, encouraging the crowd and extending gratitude. Various progressive and left-wing activist groups showed their support as well, with representatives from the Poor People’s Campaign, the Young Communist League, Sunrise Movement, Working Families Party, Vets for the People, Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition, and many more in attendance.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Rep. Adam Schiff also made appearances, which is notable due to the fact that historically neither of them has been in support of policies to aid struggling renters, and in the case of Schumer, even going so far as to mock these most vulnerable of populations.

Housing advocates and tenants protest outside Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office on the eviction moratorium on Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021, in New York. After a federal eviction moratorium was allowed to lapse this weekend, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new targeted moratorium Tuesday on evictions that would last until Oct. 3. | Brittainy Newman / AP

While this eviction moratorium is a victory for housing rights activists, it is neither a comprehensive nor long-term solution to the impending and current housing crisis. It is merely a bandage on a festering wound that has been decades in the making. Six million—by some estimates closer to 11 million—people could still lose their homes at the end of October, only a few short months away and just before the onset of winter.

Furthermore, the impending eviction crisis comes at a time when housing instability is at an all-time high, hitting communities of color the hardest. Rent is rising nationwide even as states block rent control laws. Aggressive attempts are being made to privatize fully-funded public housing.

“There is a need for a full moratorium on evictions, regardless of the news coming out of the Biden administration re-imposing a limited form of the eviction moratorium,” Grayzone News commentator Max Blumenthal said on Twitter. He’s right; this is still a pressing issue, and the temporary moratorium extension—while good—is not going to solve the problem. It is unthinkable that the U.S. government would allow evictions during a global health crisis, heaping the inhumane cruelty of losing your home upon people who are already struggling to make ends meet.

Housing is a human right, not a privilege.

As with all op-eds published by People’s World, this article reflects the opinions of its authors. 


CONTRIBUTOR

Justine Medina
Justine Medina

Justine Medina is a co-chair of the New York Young Communist League. She's also been involved in Democratic Socialists of America and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's campaigns for Congress.

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