(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.
Jeff Bezos Thanks Amazon Workers And Customers For Paying For His Flight To Space
The billionaire space race chalked up one more ignoble milestone on July 20 when the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, boarded a reusable rocket his company Blue Origin built and funded, flew to the edge of space for a moment of weightlessness, and came back down to earth.
You can watch the flight and learn more about the journey here.
The Amazon founder has faced withering criticism for accumulating his massive fortune on the backs of an exploited workforce that is subject to harsh working conditions and low pay in warehouses or Fulfillment Centers where staffers must urinate in water bottles in order to meet their quotas.
In his press conference following the launch, Bezos thanked that same workforce for helping him to shoot himself into space in a move that many critics have described as a simple “joyride.”
“I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer because you guys paid for this,” he told the crowd, which responded with laughter. “Seriously, for every Amazon customer out there and every employee thank you from the bottom of my heart very much. It’s very appreciated.”
Critics on Twitter responded with derision, noting that Bezos was able to enjoy the trip at the expense of his hard-working employees.
“Thing is, employers are supposed to pay their employees, not the other way around, but that’s basically how Amazon works,” one user tweeted.
While another tweeter asked: “Maybe they’re searching space for signs of a livable wage or a way to pay their fair share of taxes?”
On Tuesday, Bezos blasted off in the sub-orbital New Shepard rocket from Texas. The date for the launch was chosen to coincide with the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Members of the crew, which included his brother mark and 82-year-old female astronaut Wally Funk, brought a number of historic items on the flight, including a piece of canvas from the conceptual plane originally flown by the Wright brothers, the goggles Amelia Earhart used to fly across the Atlantic, and a brass medal made from the first hot air balloon which flew in 1783.
Keanu Reeves Praised As Video of Him Offering Seat to Lady in Subway Resurfaces
Keanu Reeves is an actor who has long been loved by audiences —and not necessarily due to his acting skills, but due to how nice the John Wick star is.
And now, Reeves is once again earning praise as a “true gentleman” after resurfaced video footage shows Reeves giving up his seat on the subway.
The clip was shared by Instagram film fan account Cinemonkeys where it has since earned nearly 45,000 likes.
The video footage dates back to 2011, when it was shared on YouTube by a user of the video-sharing platform.
At the time, Reeves was already a superstar riding on the fame he earned from the Matrix, Speed, and a number of other blockbuster hits.
When Reeves notices a woman carrying a heavy bag, he quickly points to his seat and asks if she would like to sit. The woman accepts and Reeves gets up without hesitating to let her take his seat.
Reeves, ever the model citizen, then stands and holds onto a subway pole while carrying his bag.
The video has since been watched over 27 million times and was even cited in a 2019 Time magazine profile of the actor describing Reeves as the “soul mate” of the internet.
The resurfacing of the clip on Instagram once again impressed users of the platform.
“This human being’s soul honestly shines so bright,” wrote one user.
“OMG I love him in every single way,” another person commented.
“His kindness knows no bounds,” commented someone else.
Keanu is set to reprise his role as Neo in the upcoming fourth Matrix film directed and written by Lana Wachowski, who co-directed the earlier trilogy with her sister Lilly. He will also return to the silver screen in John Wick: Chapter 4, which will be released in 2022.
Drunk Man Rescues Injured Baby Bird By Sending It To Animal Shelter… In An Uber
An injured baby bird received a new lease on life after a young man who was inebriated had the good sense to send the little creature to an animal shelter because he and his friends were too drunk to drive.
In the Summer of 2019, a small lesser goldfinch suddenly appeared by itself at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah. The center’s chairman, Buz Marthaler, was notified by a volunteer who sent him a photo.
“It was a picture of this bird, and it had come by Uber,” Marthaler told FOX13. “It was just crazy.”
As it turns out, the tiny bird – which was only two weeks old – indeed rolled up to the site by its lonesome, the sole passenger in an Uber vehicle called by concerned citizens who found the injured creature.
Among those good Samaritans was Tim Crowley, who had been “day drinking” on that Saturday before he and his buddies witnessed the little bird fall from the sky.
“Impromptu, sitting in some camp chairs, hanging out, having a few drinks when we had a visitor fall out of the sky,” he explained.
Crowley then snapped a photo of the bird and sent it to the WRCNU, which instructed him to immediately bring the bird in. However, the group obviously couldn’t drive since they had been guzzling booze all day.
So Crowley decided he’d hail a cab for the creature.
“At first it was a joke, like, ‘Hey, maybe we should just call Uber!’” he said. “Then we were like, ‘No, really. Why not? We’re paying them.’”
As it turns out, the bird – since named “Petey Uber” by staff at the rescue center – likely would have perished if not for Crowley’s quick thinking.
Marthaler remains impressed by Crowley’s move and shared the news on its Facebook page.
“While we feel we’ve seen it all and can’t be amazed by anything, there is always someone out there to prove us wrong,” the shelter’s post read. “Thank you to the rescuer who helped this little one get the care it needed in a timely manner and thank you for keeping yourself safe and others on the road safe as well.”