(TMU) – With the pandemic continuing to sink its claws into the United States, economic conditions have also failed to improve for millions of people. As a result, nearly one-third U.S. households – representing 32 percent – have still not made their full housing payments for the month of July, according to a survey from online rental platform Apartment List.
And with public health experts warning people to continue to “Stay at Home,” the slogan is taking on a perverse new meaning as humanitarian disaster looms for some 28 million people in the U.S. who are facing eviction and homelessness in the immediate future.
About 19 percent of those surveyed were unable to make any housing payment in the first week of the month, while 13 percent paid a portion of their rent or mortgage.
The numbers represent the grim fact that for four months now, a “historically high” amount of U.S. households have been unable to pay their housing bill, either on time or in full. It also represents an increase from 30 percent in June and 31 percent in June.
According to Apartment List, those most likely to miss their payments were younger, low-income, or renters. Other experts warn that Black and Latino families face the highest risk of eviction. They also may be entering the start of a rapid and vicious cycle, the report suggests.
“Delayed payments in one month are a strong predictor for missed payments in the next,” Apartment List says. Indeed, 83 percent of households who paid the entirety of their May housing costs in a timely way did the same in June, but only 30 percent of households who were late in May did so in June.
As the economic crisis continues to spiral unabated, tens of millions of Americans continue to survive on unemployment while their economic stimulus checks have long been gone.
“The economic fallout from the pandemic does not appear on track for the quick V-shaped recovery that many had originally hoped for,” Apartment List notes.
And with unemployment benefits expiring while eviction bans and moratoriums that deferred rent payments are being lifted by local governments, experts and advocates are warning that we could see a tsunami of mass evictions across the country that exceeds anything ever seen.
Emily Benfer is the chair of the American Bar Association’s Task Force Committee on Eviction and co-creator of the COVID-19 Housing Policy Scorecard with the Eviction Lab at Princeton University. In an interview with CNBC, Benfer explained that the current public health crisis will soon see tens of millions of people losing their homes in the coming weeks.
“We have never seen this extent of eviction in such a truncated amount of time in our history,” she said. “We can expect this to increase dramatically in the coming weeks and months, especially as the limited support and intervention measures that are in place start to expire.”
“About 10 million people, over a period of years, were displaced from their homes following the foreclosure crisis in 2008,” she added.
“We’re looking at 20 million to 28 million people in this moment, between now and September, facing eviction.”
Legal aid groups and housing advocates are expecting an avalanche of cases as eviction moratoriums and rent deferral moratoriums have ended in quick succession. And across the country, there has been a 200 percent jump in calls to 211 call centers that refer people to social service providers, reports Yahoo! finance.
And as the moratoriums are lifted, county courts are facing hundreds, if not thousands of eviction cases flooding in – in Memphis, local county courts saw a backlog of 9,000 eviction cases when hearings resumed last month.
“In many ways, the wave has already begun. We need to work to stop it from becoming a tsunami and we’re running out of time,” said Diane Yentel, president of the National Low-Income Housing Coalition. “We’re seeing now a really frankly horrifying confluence of increasing evictions in states where new coronavirus cases are surging.”
According to the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project (CEDP), one in five of the 110 million Americans who rent their homes – over 20 million people – are at risk of eviction by the end of September. And these aren’t simply low-income families, but people who fell on rough times recently due to the shock of the pandemic, explains CEDP Co-Founder Zach Neumann – and the number is expected to dramatically jump when unemployment benefits run out at the end of the month.
“You have a lot of folks who had strong incomes, in a lot of cases high five-figure or low six-figure [salaries],” Neumann explained. “They didn’t have a lot of savings, lost their jobs or were furloughed, and there was not any severance attached to that, but had rents that were in line with the salaries they were earning. The client pool economically looks a lot different than it has in the past.”
In the meantime, the threat of homelessness has coincided with a dramatic spike in coronavirus infections across the U.S. South and the West, hitting struggling tenants disproportionately. And with states like Texas pausing reopening plans, evictions hearings are still proceeding – but on Zoom. As a result, tenants who lack access to technology are often robbed of their ability to flex their legal rights.
Housing advocates are urgently calling for nationwide protections in the form of a uniform eviction moratorium and federal aid through the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions or HEROES Act and the Emergency Housing Protections and Relief Act of 2020. However, the Republican-controlled Senate is expected to block both measures.
Renters across the country are also forming tenant’s unions and demanding that rent be deferred indefinitely. Some tenants, such as the Acacia Apartments residents in Denver, Colorado, are already waging a rent strike – potentially showing the how people across the country who are struggling to keep a roof over their heads plan to keep fighting even in the face of their landlords’ eviction threats.
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.