Pressley Blasts Corporate Money Preventing Life-Saving Extension of Eviction Moratorium
WASHINGTON – Today, in a House Financial Services Committee hearing, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) reiterated her calls for an extension of the federal eviction moratorium and sharply criticized the National Association of Realtors for standing in the way of an extension that would save lives, noting that the National Association of Realtors PAC donated nearly $4,000,000 during the 2020 election cycle, making it the top PAC donor to 2020 Democrat and Republican candidates.
The Congresswoman also implored federal housing agencies to enact their own eviction moratoriums to keep residents of federally backed properties safely housed.
Rep. Pressley has led efforts in Congress to extend the federal eviction moratorium as a matter of economic, public health, racial justice. In July, she organized in solidarity with Congresswoman Bush and other progressive colleagues to urge the Administration to act unilaterally to extend this protection—efforts that resulted in a new targeted CDC eviction moratorium. Last month, following the Supreme Court ruling striking down the moratorium, she led her colleagues in calling on Congressional leadership imploring them to swiftly pass legislation to extend the federal eviction moratorium for the duration of the pandemic.
A full transcript of her exchange with witnesses today is available below, and the video is available here.
Transcript: Pressley Blasts Corporate Money Preventing Life-Saving Extension of Eviction Moratorium
House Financial Services Committee
September 10, 2021
REP. PRESSLEY: I know firsthand the fear and the trauma that comes with an eviction notice on your door.
Evictions are disruptive and violent. These are violent events that not only destabilize families but make it more expensive and challenging to rent safe housing in the future, to apply for credit, to borrow money, or to purchase a home.
Currently, almost a third of Black renters are at risk of eviction. This eviction crisis is exacerbating economic injustice for Black families across America.
Ms. Yentel: While there is a clear economic justice case to support eviction moratoriums, wasn’t the legal justification of the CDC eviction moratorium always to help us get COVID-19 under control?
MS. YENTEL: Yes, absolutely. The purpose of the CDC federal eviction moratorium was to slow the spread of COVID-19 and contain the virus. Research has since shown that expired eviction moratoriums led to as many as 400,000 cases of COVID-19 and as many as eleven thousand deaths.
REP. PRESSLEY: That's right, so when I say, “eviction is policy violence”, that’s not just some catchy turn of phrase. We know that when 27 states lifted their eviction moratoriums during the pandemic, again it led to some 433,000 preventable cases of COVID-19 and 10,700 preventable COVID-19 deaths.
This policy failure has ended the lives of more than TEN THOUSAND Americans.
Now, earlier this summer, before its expiration, some Democrats, including our Chairwoman, Maxine Waters, and myself, fought hard to implore every option to extend the eviction moratorium, including passing legislation. Now while we were successful in securing a targeted CDC extension for a month, at the time, there were not enough Members of Congress that were willing to vote YES to help pass the commonsense legislation to prevent a public health crisis within a public health crisis.
Somewhere along the line, the conversation about the eviction moratorium shifted from it being a reasonable public health measure into an argument that Congress was anti-small landlord. That’s not it. This is about saving people’s lives. That was a ploy to divide and pit working families against working families. Every proposal before Congress has provided relief for renters and small landlords alike.
Then I discovered that the National Association of Realtors was the largest PAC donor to candidates in the last election cycle and suddenly that shift made sense.
The fight to extend the federal eviction moratorium has been derailed too many times because the single largest PAC donor is the organization who is fighting – from Congress to the Supreme Court – to ensure that renters are put last. Which means they're putting the public health last.
So let me be clear: our advocacy is about saving lives. Congress has provided 46 billion dollars to get landlords out of debt, and now we need to protect renters, too.
Renters may not have a multi-million-dollar PAC behind them, but they have a growing number of Members of Congress in their corner.
Ms. Yentel, yesterday Dr. Fauci said that COVID-19 rates are ten times too high to consider the spread “under control”. Do you think that the federal housing agencies are doing everything in their power to get COVID-19 under control, by protecting renters from eviction?
MS. YENTEL: I think they can and should do more. And Congress should as well. I mean, clearly Congress should implement a federal eviction moratorium as long as the delta variant is surging and people are dying. But as you said, Congress doesn't have the votes to do so, and so federal agencies should act. We have urged the Department of HUD to implement an eviction moratorium for all federally-subsidized properties, which we believe they have the legal authority to do now, and we urge FHFA to consider what authorities it might have to similarly implement an eviction moratorium on federally-backed properties. Those two actions would affect about 30 percent of renters nationally.
REP. PRESSLEY: Thank you. And we know there's an estimated 750,000 renters that could be evicted in the next few months.
This is an all-hands-on-deck moment. This is a public health emergency. I urge every level of government to take urgent action to keep people safely housed.
Late last month, with the previous eviction moratorium set to expire, Rep. Pressley stood in solidarity with her colleague Congresswoman Cori Bush, on the steps of the US Capitol to urge the Administration to act unilaterally to extend this protection—efforts that resulted in a new CDC eviction moratorium.
On July 31, ahead of the expiration of the previous CDC eviction moratorium, Reps. Pressley, Bush, Gomez and their progressive colleagues sent a letter renewing their calls for President Biden and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky to extend the federal eviction moratorium and prevent the historic and deadly wave of evictions that would occur if the government failed to do so.
On July 30, Rep. Pressley joined House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) in introducing the Protecting Renters from Evictions Act of 2021, legislation to extend the eviction moratorium through the end of the year.
In June, Rep. Pressley, along with Reps. Gomez and Bush, led over 40 of their colleagues on a letter urging President Biden and CDC Director Walensky to extend and strengthen the moratorium for the duration of the public health crisis.
From the onset of the pandemic, Congresswoman Pressley has fought tirelessly to provide robust housing protections for families in Massachusetts and across the nation.
- On March 18, 2020, Reps. Pressley, Katie Porter (D-CA) and Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) wrote to HUD calling for a moratorium on evicting renters during the coronavirus pandemic.
- On March 19, 2020, Rep. Pressley, along with progressive lawmakers and organizations, introduced the Housing is a Human Right Act to authorize more than $200 billion in federal spending over 10 years for crucial housing infrastructure and reduce homelessness.
- On March 23, 2020, Reps. Pressley and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) introduced the Public Health Emergency Shelter Act of 2020, legislation to provide critical funding to states and local governments responding to the needs of families and individuals experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 crisis. This legislation was included and passed through the HEROES Act and H.R. 7301, the Emergency Housing Protections and Relief Act of 2020.
- On April 10, 2020, Rep. Pressley urged Congressional leadership to prioritize recurring monthly cash payments to those most at-risk during the COVID-19 crisis. This funding would allow people to cover all their bills, including rent.
- On April 17, 2020, Reps. Pressley, Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and colleagues introduce the Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act, a bill to institute a nationwide cancellation of rents and home mortgage payments through the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.
- On May 11, 2020, Reps. Tlaib, and Joe Neguse (D-CO) urge House and Senate leadership to include $11.5 billion in funding for Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) in the next relief package to aid the nation’s homeless population who are experiencing heightened vulnerability during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- On July 24, 2020, in a Financial Services Committee hearing, Rep. Pressley discussed the unprecedented financial cliff facing millions of renters and homeowners, the economic consequences of millions losing their homes, including the ability to return to work, and why funding for legal representation is so critical.
- On July 28, 2020, Rep. Pressley, Rep. DeLauro and Sen. Harris introduced the Housing Emergencies Lifeline Program (HELP) Act to provide much-needed, layered assistance to those facing eviction amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
- On May 18, 2021, Reps. Bush and Pressley sent a letter to the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), calling on the CDC to strengthen and extend the federal moratorium on evictions, ensuring families can remain safely in their homes for the duration of the COVID-19 global health emergency.
- In June 2021, Congresswoman Pressley, along with Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), re-introduced the Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act, a bill to institute a nationwide cancellation of rents and home mortgage payments through the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.
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