Renters in America

Before the covid epidemic about 3.7 million evictions were filed for every average year. Most poor renter families spent at least half their incomes on housing, and about 1 in 4 of these families spent more than 70%, most of whom are Black (most White families own their own houses). Housing is the main driver of inequality.

The covid 19 epidemic, together with the economic crisis, has now put 30-40 million Americans in danger of losing a roof over their heads. In September the CDC issued a moratorium on most evictions until the end of the year. Some cities also banned evictions during the covid period. But the rent is still owing when the moratorium ends, and this ending could be a signal for mass homelessness.

My comment: In a rich country like the United States it is shameful that the shadow of homelessness should hover over so many people. The situation used to be similar in the UK, but the labour Party, after the Second World War, built thousands of “Council houses”, under the control of local authorities. Nothing fancy, in fact mostly ugly, but at least the rents were low and tenants were fairly secure (at least, until Mrs Thatcher came along and started selling them off (typical of the woman’s total absence of empathy – but don’t get me started!). American States and local communities should likewise be building housing for the very poor, away from the clutches of individual landlords. It’s the decent thing to do. Stop the evictions! (Guardian Weekly 6 November 2020)

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