Organizers and community members in at least 15 cities across the United States are set to mobilize Tuesday to “storm the streets in front of the homes and offices of Republican leaders, occupy eviction courts, and hold teach-ins on tenant protections for a nationwide day of uprisings to protest the Senate’s failures to provide relief during the biggest eviction crisis the U.S. has ever faced.”
The website of the #ReliefIsDue campaign, spearheaded by the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD), notes that “our rent and mortgages are due, our bills are due, homelessness is skyrocketing, small businesses are going bankrupt, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican senators continue to sit at home and do nothing.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has upended the national economy, with 57.3 million workers filing for unemployment over the past five months and millions of families struggling to meet basic needs.
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On its campaign website, the CPD summarizes the reasons for Tuesday’s planned day of action:
McConnell, backed by the Republican-controlled Senate, has failed to pass the House’s HEROES Act or an alternative that would provide the support we need to stay afloat during this pandemic.
Republicans have refused to extend the $600 Covid-relief unemployment insurance, and some unemployed workers remain ineligible to receive any cash assistance. Without rent cancellation or support, millions of people across the country are facing eviction and foreclosure.
People are unable to find testing sites, and are avoiding treatment because they can’t afford it. Hospitalized Covid patients worry about their medical bills instead of their recovery.
Republicans are letting small businesses go bankrupt while big companies receive PPP loans. Hundreds of thousands of small businesses shuttered by Covid-19 are unable to keep employees on payroll and are at risk of closing for good without direct subsidies.
With rent due on the first of the month and temporary protections expiring for many tenants, an eviction crisis looks imminent.
According to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, as many as 40 million people could be displaced from their homes in the next several months. This scenario is precisely what organizers are attempting to prevent.
Rent is due tomorrow. My question is this: with 40 million facing the threat of eviction, how in the world does Sen. McConnell think they’re going to cobble up enough income to keep a roof over their heads during this crisis?
It is time to cancel rent until this crisis is over. pic.twitter.com/7EXu2IsWDz
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) August 31, 2020
“While our families are struggling to make ends meet, Republican leaders have turned their backs on us,” Ashley Broshious from Charleston, South Carolina, said in a CPD statement. “We are coming together to fight against any evictions happening in our communities and demand that all rent be canceled until this crisis is over. It’s time for us to hold Republicans accountable for all the suffering our communities have gone through because of their inaction. Relief is due and the Senate must act now.”
Organizers in at least 15 states have coordinated mass demonstrations targeting a variety of actors who participate in the eviction process, including banks, corporate landlords, marshals, sheriffs, and the courts.
Examples of specific protests include rallies and car caravans outside of housing courts; a march to McConnell’s house in Washington D.C.; teach-ins on tenant protections and eviction defenses; and in Little Rock, Arkansas, tenants will serve eviction notices to U.S. Senators.
Throughout the nation, demonstrators will “call on eviction and housing courts across the country to remain closed and for evictions, rent, and mortgages to be cancelled for the duration of the crisis and a recovery period.”
In addition, activists are calling on the Senate to:
- Cancel rent, cancel mortgages and extend the eviction moratorium;
- Extend the $600 unemployment insurance;
- Provide cash assistance for all;
- Provide free testing and healthcare for all;
- Provide grants to small businesses to keep workers on payroll and small businesses alive; and
- Provide students all the support they need to learn from home until it’s safe for schools to reopen.
Sept. 1 will mark the fifth straight month of protests against evictions. While thousands of people have taken part in protests, CPD says that “anger and frustration are reaching a breaking point as the Trump administration and Republican-controlled Senate have failed to extend housing relief.”
A full list of local events can be found at reliefisdue.com.