Respect Poverty

400,000 call on Congress to ease housing concerns for American families impacted by coronavirus

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Story at a glance

  • According to a recent survey, only 38 percent of parents believe they will be able to make their rent or mortgage payments on Wednesday without cutting back on food, medicine or other necessities.
  • More than 400,000 Americans have signed a petition to suspend housing payments and order a full moratorium on evictions.
  • Some 82 percent of respondents are worried about having enough money to cover basic housing and food costs within three months.

Those struggling to pay April rent today are far from alone — millions of families are encountering issues with paying their bills as a result of the coronavirus pandemic as more people continue to apply for unemployment and wait for their stimulus checks to arrive in the mail.

But it is unclear when those checks will arrive, and for many, rent was due yesterday. More than 400,000 people have now signed a petition created by ParentsTogether Action, calling on Congress to suspend rent, mortgage and utility payments and order a full moratorium on evictions and foreclosures.

“The stimulus bill is a first step, but it’s not enough for most families and leaves out many altogether. Millions are wondering how they’ll pay their rent or mortgage by tomorrow. We need additional emergency action suspending rent, mortgage and utility payments for the duration of this crisis,” said Justin Ruben, Co-Director of ParentsTogether. “Parents are telling us they won’t be able to pay rent unless they cut back on vital food or medication — this isn’t a choice we should be forcing people to make.”

Some states like New York have already gone so far as to suspend evictions until further notice and put a 90-day moratorium on mortgage payments, but have not taken steps to suspend monthly payments for renters. The Trump administration has also ordered a foreclosure moratorium on single-family home mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration or obtained through government-owned lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. For those who live in a state with no eviction moratorium and don’t meet the requirements put in place by the Trump administration, the future of where they’ll be able to “shelter in place” seems unclear.

According to ParentsTogether Action’s survey of more than 1,200 parents and members, 68 percent of families are struggling as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, and more than two-thirds of respondents say that the emergency one-time payment coming to many Americans will only help tide them over for a month or less. 

“We’re just paying for food, supplements and basics at the moment, not paying any bills except for a loan from a family friend,” says one of the respondents from Florida. “Our credit cards don’t have much credit left on them. We have filled out necessary paperwork to our mortgage company but haven’t heard back. We have two special needs children that I already homeschool. But we have no health insurance and didn’t qualify for Medicaid. We are just relying on pure faith at this point.”