Dear Democratic Colleague,
In the last 24 hours, a challenge to the conscience of the Congress has descended upon us, as millions of Covid-affected renter households are facing eviction.
In the December Omnibus and the American Rescue Plan, Congress provided $46.5 billion to meet the needs of renters and housing providers. This emergency assistance was accompanied by a moratorium on residential evictions that kept millions of renters stably housed during the pandemic.
On Saturday, the moratorium ends, but the fundamental problem remains. Of the more than $46 billion provided by Congress, only $3 billion has been distributed to renters by state and local governments. Families must not pay the price for that. Congress must act again. We have the power to extend the eviction moratorium to provide relief, as we encourage state and local governments to distribute the money that we allocated.
I am writing to call your attention to the imperative for us, the Congress, to meet the needs of the American people: both the families unable to make rent and those to whom the rent is to be paid. This bureaucratic situation is unjust, and we must overcome it.
I am deeply concerned about this, because, sadly, I have seen families evicted from their homes. It is one of the most heartbreaking situations you can see: cribs and personal belongings put on the street for all to see or take, families suffering the indignity of being forced out of their homes and having to find shelter.
Extending the eviction moratorium is a moral imperative – and one that is simple and necessary, since Congress has already allocated resources that assist both renters and housing providers. We in Congress have the opportunity – and the responsibility – to respect the dignity of those who have suffered so much in terms of their health, financial security and well-being.
We are well-served by, and grateful for, the leadership of Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters, who has been a champion for meeting the housing needs of the American people, and Frank Pallone, Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the CDC. Both have led the charge for expeditious action to come to the aid of people in need. At the same time that the CDC is doubling down on masking and urging vaccinations, all we are asking for in the legislation is that the CDC issue an extension of the eviction moratorium to December 31, 2021.
I am now writing to you with a plea to help those in need receive what was intended for them. We must extend the eviction moratorium to provide more time for the funds to be disbursed. I make this plea, invoking the Gospel of Matthew, which reminds us of our responsibility: to provide shelter to those in need.
Let us pray.
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