Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, gave the following remarks at a virtual press conference on the impending eviction crisis brought on by COVID-19 and the Republican Senate’s failure to act.
I am very pleased that you invited me to be a part of this press conference today. This is extraordinarily important. I’m pleased to be here today with of course NAACP Legal Defense Fund President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill, National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial, and Senator Kamala Harris to discuss this very urgent issue.
It has now been four days since the federal eviction moratorium put in place by Congress in the CARES Act expired and with every passing day, the situation gets more urgent. For months, Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans refused to do anything to provide desperately needed relief to families during this pandemic and their cruel indifference has led us here, to the point where millions of people could soon lose the roof over their heads. At the beginning of this month 36 percent of renters could not pay their rent in full, a four percent increase from June and 21 percent couldn’t make a payment at all.
Additionally, the U.S. Census published data on July 22 showing that 33 percent of renters have little or no confidence that they will be able to pay August rent, up three percentage points from the week before.
So while Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans chose to abandon millions of suffering families during this crisis, I and others have fought every single day to prevent an imminent wave of mass evictions, foreclosures, and homelessness. Through my comprehensive housing relief legislation we are providing $100 billion in emergency rental assistance to help struggling renters and ensuring that the eviction moratorium lasts for the duration of the pandemic. I have been sounding the alarm on this issue for months. Starting in March, I fought to get emergency rental assistance and protections included in the CARES Act. In the Heroes Act, which passed 75 days ago, I was successful in ensuring that emergency rental assistance and an extension of the eviction moratorium were included, but I didn’t stop there. In May, I convened a roundtable on the impacts COVID-19 is having on renters and families, and then a Financial Services Committee hearing in June. To stress the urgent need to act on housing relief, I kept fighting and introduced the Emergency Housing Protections and Relief Act, which passed the House at the end of last month. Just last week, I convened another Financial Services Committee hearing on the urgent need for the passage of the Heroes Act.
For 75 days, Senate Republicans allowed this bill to collect dust instead of taking real action to help struggling families across the country.
For 75 days, Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans did absolutely nothing.
For 75 days, Senate Republicans took a line out of Donald Trump’s playbook and tried to wish the crisis away.
Because of their inaction, between 19 and 23 million renters could be evicted in the coming months. This is an emergency and an emergency response is required, but instead Senate Republicans released a COVID-19 relief bill that ignores the impending eviction crisis and ignores the very real needs of millions of people. Families across America are at risk of being kicked out onto the streets and Republicans continue to show callous disregard for them.
The Republican Senate bill contains no funding for emergency rental assistance to help the majority of renter households that do not already receive rental assistance, no funding to help struggling homeowners, and no funding to help people experiencing homelessness. This bill falls badly short of meeting the moment and it is a slap in the face to those whose livelihoods are at risk.
Of course, I and Kamala and other people in this House and in the Senate will not rest until Congress extends and expands the eviction moratorium and provides the $100 billion in emergency rental assistance and housing relief that families need so urgently.
I want to tell you that in my own district... even in the most conservative part of my district and the most conservative newspaper, they’re focused on this issue. As a matter of fact, they’re presenting stories of real individuals and families about their fear of what is happening to them. These are families who have no income practically, have lost their jobs, their businesses have closed down. They were aided somewhat by the stimulus that we were able to put out throughout this country for the families with the $1,200 for the adults and $500 for each of the children, but that’s gone now. So they don’t have anything to rely on and so these families that are begging us to do something, [saying] please don’t allow this to happen, should be listened to. They should be heard. They should be respected. They should not have to beg us. We should be compassionate enough and responsible enough to do what legislators are sent to Congress to do, and that is to make sure we’re helping and [ensuring] a decent quality of life for all of our people in this nation. And so, I am very exercised about all of this. I am very unhappy, but I am frightened also. And we must make sure that all of the voices that we have heard in the protests that have been going on in this country, continue. They must continue. It is not only about police reform, it is not simply about pure racism, it is about all of the issues that must be dealt with. The changes that must come in the way that we deal with our constitutional responsibility and the way that the voices of the people of this country must be heard. And so, as I shared in this press conference today, I want you to know that this emerges as perhaps the single most important issue as was identified. You know you were talking about children going back to school – what home are they going to return to or leave from?
I thank you so very much for allowing me to participate today.