In the U.S., millions of citizens who have been at risk of losing housing during the pandemic have a reason to thank Cori Bush. On Tuesday, August 3, the Biden administration imposed a 60 day moratorium on evictions in multiple counties throughout the country. This new protective measure was announced following the relentless work of activists who slept on the steps of the Capitol for four nights. One of those activists was Cori Bush—the first African-American woman from Missouri serving as a U.S. House Representative.
Lying down to sleep in front of the Capitol is not permitted under federal law. Protesters had to spend multiple cold nights sitting up on their chairs, wrapped in blankets and sleeping bags. “I am exhausted emotionally and mentally,” stated Ms. Bush, in an interview with Democracy Now! on Monday. “But it is nothing in comparison to what our unhoused community members face every single day.”
As someone who was formerly unhoused, Ms. Bush decided to prioritize the fight for housing rights instead of joining other House members on a 7-week recess.
Cori Bush on Twitter: “5 AM. This morning felt cold, like the wind was blowing straight through my sleeping bag. Since Friday—when some colleagues chose early vacation over voting to prevent evictions—we’ve been at the Capitol. It’s an eviction emergency. Our people need an eviction moratorium. Now.”
Before leaving for vacation, Congress had failed to extend the eviction ban. The ban, scheduled to expire on July 31, was enacted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in September 2020 to halt the spread of COVID-19 by keeping tenants in their homes and simultaneously help those at risk of homelessness due to loss of income.
I’m so glad to be back home in St. Louis. The love is overwhelming.
My community knows there was no way we were going to let 8,700 of our neighbors—and millions more across our country—be put out of their homes during this pandemic.
Because housing is a human right. https://t.co/qo8uuxhXsU
— Cori Bush (@CoriBush) August 7, 2021
The new extension of the moratorium issued by the CDC will prevent the eviction of tenants in counties with “substantial and high levels” of coronavirus transmissions, as the number of Delta variant cases continues to surge. During these uncertain times, tenants struggling to make rent payments in about 80% of counties in the country will be protected from potential home loss by this moratorium until October 3.
Although this extension is a step towards alleviating the current housing crisis in the United States, the impending expiration date of the eviction ban and the fluctuating COVID-19 rates leave tenants with minimal resources for long-term housing solutions. The futures of families, renters and homeowners remain uncertain as they continue to struggle with financial insecurity, health crises and unstable housing conditions. The work of passionate activists, such as those who rallied in front of the U.S. Capitol over the weekend, remains one of the most crucial efforts to protect the rights and safety of low-income individuals throughout the country.