We are assembling information to help organizations in the United States come together and prevent the impending tragedies of eviction, hunger and homelessness that threaten millions of children.
Last updated March 26th, 4:45pm PDT
This is a rapidly unfolding effort – this page will be updated frequently as new or revised information surfaces.
Latest US News on Child Hardship ~ Understand the Crisis ~ Covid Relief Bill March 2021 ~ Actions to Take ~ References ~ Blog Posts
We need help refining our message, getting our supporting research and communications in good order, and especially getting the information out to larger organizations in the United States that can mobilize people to apply pressure for action.
This website is still in development. We offer it now as an introduction to the work we are doing. Please join us in our efforts to improve the way we present the information and get the information to where it can do the most good.
Paul Schaafsma has investigated levels of child food and housing insecurity associated with (but not caused by) the pandemic, as revealed in the Census Bureau’s “Household Pulse Survey,” conducted at regular intervals since April of last year.
The $1.9 Trillion Covid Relief Bill and Child Hardship
March 18, 2021
The $1.9 trillion stimulus bill does contain a measure of relief, but falls far short of what is needed. News headlines claiming the bill “cuts poverty in half” grossly overstate what the bill actually does.
The one time payment, for a family of 2 adults and 2 children who meet the income guidelines, is $5,600. However, Bloomberg estimates there are 11.4 million households that owe at least $6,000 in back rent. This does not even bring these households current with their landlords, a terrible omission made worse by the weak federal eviction moratorium.
From April through December of 2020, families with children were twice as likely to report owing back rent, and the rate of delinquency rose sharply with the number of children in the household. So those 11.4 million households burdened with $6,000 or more of back rent are disproportionately families with children.
The expansion of the child tax credit could provide families with children, on a temporary basis, with an added $133 a month for a child under 6 years of age or $83 a month for a child 6 years or older. The exclusion of people without enough taxable income has been eliminated. Those two changes together could provide some sustained help temporarily. Like all provisions of the bill, they expire in 12 months. How much help they provide depends on the steps households have to take to receive them.
The bill Vice President Harris introduced as a Senator, the “Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act,” dwarfs the relief provided by the stimulus bill.
Apart from the one time payments and changes to the child tax credit, the bill has some underfunded line items to address specific costs, none of which provide relief unless households know the help is available and how to access it.
The worst thing about the claim this bill “cuts poverty in half” is that news outlets know perfectly well this refers only to “official poverty,” which is calculated by multiplying the cost of the USDA’s cheapest meal plan by 3. It does not even take notice of the costs of housing, utilities, healthcare, tuition / student debt, transportation, clothing or any other basic life requirement. The portion of income that goes to food falls when housing costs soar, as they have for decades, leaving wages far behind.
What the Covid-19 pandemic revealed is the vast portion of America whose household income does not cover the cost of basic life requirements, like the 62% of renters who reported cutting back on food and other necessities before the pandemic began. In the United States, for every household that receives rental assistance, 3 households that qualify for and urgently need that assistance don’t get it, because Congress won’t fund the program.
“After adjusting for inflation: Median home prices increased 121% nationwide since 1960, but median household income only increased 29%. Median gross rent increased by 72% since the 1960s, more than twice the growth seen by adjusted incomes.”https://listwithclever.com/research/home-price-v-income-historical-study/
This is why, shortly before the pandemic, a study found 62% of renters cut back on food and other necessities to make their rent payment. It’s why the share of children 12 and younger reported by their mothers to go hungry shot up 460% in April, why Brookings found 14 million children did not have enough to eat by June, a figure Census Bureau microdata suggests reached over 20 million by December of 2020.
The Child Hardship Crisis
December 2020 – January 2021 info
An estimated 8.6 million American children could be evicted from their homes—living in cars, on couches, on the street, or in shelters, most hungry—with no internet for school, at risk of freezing, molestation, abuse, family breakdown or being taken by the state—and their family members twice as likely to get COVID-19 and 5 times as likely to die of it as they would if in their own homes.*
The quick cash fix passed by Congress may help a little. However, only solid, sustained action from the new Congress can save our children: Continuing unemployment and direct payments; no rent or mortgage payments until COVID-19 is no longer a national threat; government payment of mortgages; and other debt relief, so that when COVID-19 is under control, families can get back on their feet, kids can get back to school, and our economy can get restarted quickly. Only these actions will be big enough and fast enough to do the job. They must be the top priorities.
Meanwhile, the eviction of children, of families, and millions of vulnerable others in the middle of winter —and a potential resultant quintupling of COVID-19 deaths— cannot be allowed to happen.
*These statements are extrapolated from (i) the November Data in the updated Household Pulse Survey of the US Census Bureau and (ii) analysis of impacts of the two mass evictions that in the past months. See References and Information Resources
To stop it, here’s what you can do:
1. Lobby your Congressional Representatives and Senators continuously, spelling out specific stories of what’s happening to you, your family and neighbors–their constituents–and exactly what you expect them to do about it, specifying bills and solutions: Payroll guarantees, absolute ban on evictions. Bills that would move us further in the right direction are HR6515 RENT AND MORTGAGE CANCELLATION ACT, S 3784 MONTHLY ECONOMIC CRISIS SUPPORT ACT and S4042 FARM LABORERS PROTECTION ACT. (Learn more about tactics for effective lobbying from FNCC.)
2. If you’re a regional, national, religious, civic, health or professional organization or movement, concerned about poverty, health, children, justice, race, climate, housing, or any other relatable movement or organization, get out these facts and this message (or your version) to all your members, allies and networks, as soon as possible—with your own Call to Action
3. If you’re a landlord or mortgage holder, track your costs towards later debt relief, but allow your tenant or home-owner to stay until the emergency passes. Join the millions of others demanding Congress meet the emergency with the money it can make available to pay any back rent. Remind them as a taxpayer that it costs you, thru government, six time more to make a family homeless than it does to keep a roof over their heads. Rally your entire community to demand Congress act as it should.
4. If you’re a local elected councilmember, sheriff, or bank, refuse to evict. If you’re not, demand that those who do have that power do not evict. Remind them as a taxpayer that it costs you, thru government, six time more to make a family homeless than it does to keep a roof over their heads. Rally your entire community to demand Congress act as it should.
5. Get local government, NGOs, faith communities, colleges, youth and other volunteers to get out and count how many are under threat of eviction in your own immediate community. Know now, ahead of time, just how many are at risk of eviction within the next few months. Come together to make a plan.
- Take direct action. Rally to support “Don’t Vacate” actions, calling on government not to evict. Find or set up a local eviction crisis hotline, so that people can show up in numbers to stop it (and take video to share on social media) whenever an eviction is underway.
- Find ways to immediately help, feed, protect, and provide for everyone who still falls through the cracks, rallying all to help.
Do you have a suggestion for other actions to help? You can also contact us and/or leave a comment below.
This is a rapidly unfolding effort – this page will be updated frequently as new or revised information surfaces.
References and Information Resources
Expiring eviction moratoriums and COVID-19 incidence and mortality (Leifheit et al. – Dec 2020 academic preprint for SSRN – https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/Papers.cfm?abstract_id=3739576)
The University of Arizona law school’s Innovation for Justice program created a cost of eviction calculator that models how much it costs a community in increased emergency shelter, inpatient and emergency medical care, child welfare services, and juvenile delinquency for each person evicted. For the worst-case scenario of 23 million evictions, it calculates a nationwide, one-year cost of $128.7 billion. Innovation for Justice Program Manager Mackenzie Pish says the model doesn’t include the costs of increased mental health services or policing, so their calculation is likely on the low side.https://shelterforce.org/2020/07/24/what-happens-if-23-million-renters-are-evicted/
“Homelessness is not natural,” says Eviction Lab’s Alieza Durana. “It is a choice we are making as a society and we can choose differently. We are a wealthy nation, we have the ability to support people in our community especially when they fall on hard times.”
For Santa Cruz, CA area organizations — https://goodtimes.sc/santa-cruz-news/santa-cruz-homeless-die-younger-why/
National Academies Press: Coronavirus Resources https://www.nap.edu/collection/94/coronavirus-resources
Notes from Dec 24, 2020 press release [PDF of our Christmas Eve press release]
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
Dec 30, 2020 press release [PDF of our Georgia press release]
Who are we?
The Child Eviction Fact Force (https://novasutras.org/the-child-eviction-fact-force/) includes Paul Schaafsma, Jennifer Beagle, Dr. Nancy Glock-Grueneich, Ray Glock-Grueneich, Carol Long, Dr. Michelle Merrill, Leoma Scott, Dr. Kendon Smith and other volunteers (Novasutras Uplifters).
Related Novasutras Blog Posts
Levels of child hardship – hunger and housing insecurity – associated with the Covid pandemic are being under-reported. Novasutras Uplifters in the Child Hardship Fact Force are assembling information to help organizations in the United States come together and prevent the impending tragedies of eviction, hunger and homelessness that threaten millions of children. Paul Schaafsma has investigated levels of child food and housing insecurity associated with (but not caused by) the pandemic, as revealed in the Census Bureau’s “Household Pulse Survey,” conducted at regular intervals since April of last year. Paul has also looked at the recent Covid Relief Bill, to realistically assess how much difference it will make for millions of children who are most in need. These updates will be discussed in the Child Hardship Fact Force meeting this Tuesday.
The Georgia runoff elections may well determine whether relief comes to the millions of children going hungry and at risk of eviction. The safety of every child in the US may depend upon a national eviction ban.
Christmas is traditionally a time for protecting the innocent, sheltering the displaced, and feeding the hungry. In this season of giving, we should demand that ALL of America’s children are fed and housed, with an effective eviction ban.