CHILDREN ARE THE GREATEST VICTIMS OF U.S. EVICTION POLICY FAILURES
Congress Must Protect Our Children this Christmas
Santa Cruz, CA (December 24, 2020) — Christmas is a time to care for all of our children. It is a time for protecting the innocent, sheltering the displaced, and feeding the hungry.
During much of the COVID pandemic, U.S. headlines have highlighted the dangers of mass eviction. What is easy to miss is that our children are the most vulnerable. According to the Household Pulse Survey, households with children are twice as likely to be threatened with eviction as those with no children. Today, 7.2 million children live in households that owe back rent, with another one-quarter in homes behind on rent. There are 11.5 million children in households that don’t think they can pay next month’s rent; 41% of all renters with children doubt they can pay rent next month. In the middle of winter, in this season of caring, how can we let tens of millions of our children face eviction?
You cannot shelter-in-place if you have no shelter. Twice as many people get COVID, and five times as many die of it, when people are put out of their homes. Public health experts at UCLA, UCSF and Johns Hopkins found a 540% increase in COVID deaths connected to the ending of eviction moratoriums in 27 states last summer (over 10,000 excess deaths in 16 weeks). People crowding into homeless shelters and makeshift encampments, or moving in with family or friends, become a perfect recipe for making the pandemic much worse. And even with the CDC moratorium, The Eviction Lab at Princeton University documented about 80,000 evictions, just in the 27 cities they monitored this fall. So in addition to risks from eviction and homelessness, children not protected from eviction are at much greater risk of being orphaned. Is Christmas not a time to cherish families?
Housing advocates are adamant that we implement a national eviction ban. We need to simplify the process for protecting renters, so that families can stay in their homes. The bill that can do this already exists: HR6515 – The Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act makes millions of families facing eviction and foreclosure safe in their homes the instant it becomes law. This bill would effectively and immediately protect renters, while fully compensating landlords and lenders. What would make a better Christmas gift than keeping people in their homes?
Hunger is also closing in on America’s children. Lauren Brauer organized studies with the Brookings Institute to track how many people were going hungry because of COVID. By June, over five times as many parents were reporting that their children had to go hungry in the last week because they could not afford food (as compared to in all of 2018). In April 2020, 17.4% of mothers with children under 12 “sometimes or often” did not have enough to eat, compared to only 3.1% of mothers reporting that for all of 2018. Brauer said children in the U.S. are going hungry “to an extent unprecedented in modern times”. In this season of giving, we should demand that ALL of America’s children are fed and housed.
Notes For example: “Homeless Pandemic Looms As 30 Million Are Risk Of Eviction” (NPR, 8/20/20); “14,000,000 American Households Are At Risk Of Eviction As Protections Expires” (CNN 12/11/20); “With Evictions Ban Expiring Soon, New Housing Crisis Can Threaten Minorities Most” (CNN12/18/20); “Evictions Are Violence: Millions Could Lose Homes Amid Covid Pandemic If Federal Moratorium Expires.” (Democracy Now, 12/22/20).
 Based on May 5 – Dec 7, 2020 data from U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/household-pulse-survey/data.html
 Leifheit, Kathryn M. and Linton, Sabriya L. and Raifman, Julia and Schwartz, Gabriel and Benfer, Emily and Zimmerman, Frederick J and Pollack, Craig, Expiring Eviction Moratoriums and COVID-19 Incidence and Mortality (November 30, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3739576 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3739576
 As reported in https://www.cnbc.com/2020/12/05/why-home-evictions-are-still-happening-despite-cdc-ban.html
 See https://www.hamiltonproject.org/blog/about_14_million_children_in_the_us_are_not_getting_enough_to_eat
 See https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2020/05/06/the-covid-19-crisis-has-already-left-too-many-children-hungry-in-america/ and as reported in https://news.yahoo.com/nearly-1-5-us-children-left-hungry-since-211425517.html
The Child Eviction Fact Force
The Child Eviction Fact Force includes Paul Schaafsma, Jennifer Beagle, Dr. Nancy Glock-Grueneich, Ray Glock-Grueneich, Dr. Michelle Merrill, Leoma Scott, Dr. Kendon Smith.
Some of us in Novasutras don’t really celebrate Christmas, but since the vast majority of people in the United States do, we encourage this effort to appeal to them. We will have additional, less holiday-themed, information and action on the child eviction crisis in coming weeks.