A 120-day moratorium on evictions, passed as part of the CARES Act in March, expires today. This expiration puts approximately 12 million renters at risk of eviction in coming weeks. “This is a cliff we don’t have to go over,” said David M. Dworkin, chief executive of the National Housing Conference, which has advocated for billions of dollars in rental assistance. Of the 110 million Americans living in rental households, 20 percent are at risk of eviction by Sept. 30, according to an analysis by the Covid-19 Eviction Defense Project, a Colorado-based community group. African American and Hispanic renters are expected to be hit hardest.” In a Twitter thread, David Wallace-Wells tabulated the mounting toll of the pandemic in the US: “More than 20 million Americans could face eviction just between now and September—twice as many as lost their homes in the fallout from the financial crisis, which was a generational economic trauma arising from the collapse of the housing market. Between the beginning of the pandemic and late May, food insecurity in America doubled, according to research from Northwestern University. 23 percent of Americans, that research found, were now food insecure. That’s 76 million people… 5.4 million have already lost health insurance, thanks to job losses, and workers are still getting laid off… Drug deaths, already at an all-time high in 2019, have risen 13% so far this year. And according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 37% of Americans now report symptoms of anxiety and depression—a three-fold increase from just last year, when only 11% did. In recent weeks, the school districts of Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Baltimore announced they would not be conducting in-person schooling at any point in the 2020-2021 calendar year [correction: fall semester]—to name just four of the biggest school districts in the country. And we already know remote-learning is, at best, an iffy proposition for the country’s well-off kids and a devastating set-back for everyone else. Not to mention their parents. As the feminist legal scholar Joan Williams told the Wall Street Journal, “opening economies without schooling and child care is a 'recipe for a generational wipeout of mothers' careers.'" And while the first rounds of pandemic relief authorized by congress have been, by sticker-price value, tremendously generous, the amount of spending is also a sign of just how deep a hole the country is in. Roughly twice as much money has been spent in the last six months in an effort to keep the country’s heads just above water than was spent in the entire 2009 stimulus bill and in an entire decade of Obamacare—combined… And while states and cities have already initiated austerity budgets to deal with inevitable tax shortfalls in the absence of meaningful aid from the federal government, the new bill seems to promise no local aid whatsoever. The most problematic are the stingier unemployment benefits. According to one proposal being considered, the average recipient, the Washington Post’s Heather Long calculated, would see weekly income fall from $930 to $330. And yet the Republicans controlling the next round of relief talk about unemployment benefits as though they are holding back recovery. But the problem isn’t the behavior of the workers, or what incentives they face, it’s the state of the labor market.”
The New York Times reports on how dramatically city planning processes have changed in the wake of the pandemic, and how communities of color often still see their needs being neglected. “One month into the coronavirus crisis this spring, Oakland, Calif., began to restrict car traffic on some streets — ultimately on 21 miles of them — to create outdoor space for residents who suddenly had nowhere else to go. Other cities have also responded with remarkably rapid transformations of urban space that had seemed impossible before the pandemic. Boston announced new bike routes. Seattle converted on-street parking to loading zones for restaurant pickup. Los Angeles and New York expedited permits for outdoor dining on streets and sidewalks. Connecticut lifted rules requiring businesses to have a minimum number of parking spaces. And some of these changes are likely to be permanent. The moves have been cheered by residents eager to use the new amenities and thankful for how fast they have appeared. Turns out, cities can move quickly. But the speed itself — and the changes that cities have prioritized — has also left residents that have long been sidelined in city planning feeling neglected again. Poorer residents weren’t going to restaurants much anyway. Many children didn’t feel safe from violence in public spaces before the pandemic. And in some Black neighborhoods, people have been deeply worried about their streets — but not necessarily whether they can dine on them. “What this moment shows us is that those decisions have never had much to do with true civic engagement,” said Destiny Thomas, an anthropologist-planner who has criticized the lack of community participation in “pop-up” pandemic infrastructure in her native Oakland and elsewhere. “That knee-jerk reaction exposes the power structure, the decision-making autonomy, and the centering of certain people’s comfort and freedoms over others.”… The neighborhoods where these residents live also frequently lack better infrastructure, or were pushed into flood plains, because planners neglected them years ago, too. Stripe a bike lane over that damage now, Ms. Thomas said, and that can signal that officials don’t intend to repair what’s underneath.”
The President issued a memo to the Commerce Department on Tuesday that would exclude undocumented immigrants from the 2020 US Census count, a move that would curb political representation.
Civil rights leader and Georgia Congressman John Lewis passed away last Friday at the age of 80 after battling pancreatic cancer. “Lewis was arrested more than 40 times protesting segregation. He was involved in lunch counter sit-ins; freedom rides on interstate buses; and he was the youngest speaker at the 1963 March on Washington… His activism started in Nashville, when Lewis was in college at Fisk University, where he received a bachelor's degree in Religion and Philosophy. He became a leader in SNCC — the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee — and was part of a group of young activists studying the philosophy of nonviolence. "Some of us came to the conclusion that means and ends are inseparable," he said. "If we are going to create the Beloved Community, an open society, if that is our goal, then the means and methods by which we struggle must be consistent with the goal, with the end we seek." Lewis said it became both a tactic, and a way of living. "You never become bitter," Lewis said. "You never become hostile. You never try to demean your opposition."”
Counties across the US anticipate losing at least $202 billion over the 2021 fiscal year, according to new research from the National Association of Counties. “America’s counties are facing immense fiscal pressure as we continue to fight this unprecedented public health and economic crisis,” Teryn Zmuda, NACo’s chief economist, said in a statement. “The fiscal impacts of the coronavirus pandemic will be felt by county residents across the nation, as services are reduced and local governments make difficult decisions while balancing already strained budgets.” The projected shortfall includes a $114 billion loss in county-generated revenue, a $58 billion loss in state funding and $30 billion in expenditures related to Covid-19 response, according to the results of the survey, which includes 197 counties in at least 38 states. Nearly 90% of respondents said their budgets had been impacted by the pandemic, with some reported deficits higher than one-third of the county’s general fund. Sixty percent of those counties said their revenues have decreased, while 69% of counties that collect local sales tax said that revenue had declined between 7% and 41%. In Los Angeles County, California, for example, officials cut 8% of funding from every county department to account for a $935 million tax revenue shortfall.”