Green Party: COVID-19 “Rubs Salt in the Open Wound” of Longstanding Housing Crisis

Thursday, January 14, 2021

The Green Party of the United States has announced a new congressional petition campaign for party members, candidates and allies to demand a permanent solution to the housing crisis. Greens say the COVID-19 pandemic threatening 40 million people with eviction severely aggravates a longstanding housing crisis. They are asking the country to hold Congress to account for their failure to take meaningful action to keep people in their homes, even as lawmakers underwrite corporate debt with taxpayer money.

The recent stimulus package passed by Congress includes $25 billion for rental assistance but extends the national eviction moratorium only to the end of January.

“This housing crisis has been an open wound in our society for generations. Job loss during the COVID-19 pandemic has poured salt in that wound, putting 40 million people in danger of eviction,” said Green Party National Co-Chair Kristin Combs. “Stopgap measures will not address the underlying issue: Our country lacks any cohesive plan to address the housing crisis.”

“Twenty-five billion dollars amounts to $650 per person — that doesn’t even cover one month’s rent for the average one-bedroom apartment in the U.S. said Green Party National Co-Chair Anita Rios. “We must change the system to ensure housing as a human right to prevent millions of people from losing their homes.”

Greens point out how, even before the pandemic, 20 million households were paying a disproportionate share of their income for rent, with some paying 70% of their income toward housing. The problem is magnified for people of color who are twice as likely to be renters and who make up 80% of people facing eviction.

Nearly 8 million people have fallen into poverty since June.

The Green Party supports a comprehensive program to protect tenants and homeowners, ensure affordable housing as a human right and finance alternatives to exploitative, market-based housing, including:

  • guaranteeing tenants’ rights nationwide
  • defending and expanding cities’ rights to enact local rent control laws
  • enforcing and strengthening fair housing laws to prevent discrimination
  • bold measures to provide safe and stable housing for the homeless
  • preserving and increasing the affordable housing supply, including public housing and community land trusts to take the profit motive out of housing as a basic human need

“Greens see this transformation as integral to a ‘real’ Green New Deal”, said Green Party National Co-Chair Margaret Elisabeth. “Our Green New Deal not only averts climate catastrophe but also seeks to bring essential needs — housing, energy, education, healthcare, food, online access — into community stewardship.”

Greens seek to finance this transformation through:

  • monetary policy such as “Greening the Dollar”, which would ban the private creation of money and allow Congress to completely fund needed programs without inflation or incurring more Federal debt or taxes
  • cutting the military budget by 75%, which would still leave the U.S. at the top of global military spending
  • ending cavernous tax loopholes for corporations and the rich
  • a more progressive overall tax system so everyone pays their fair share

Past and current monetary policy under successive Democratic and Republican administrations has significantly contributed to the affordable housing crisis. Since March, the Federal Reserve has used taxpayer-funded lending programs to buy corporate debt in response to the financial disruption from COVID-19, replicating actions after the 2008 financial crisis. The Federal Reserve has poured low-interest money into the financial system, raising the stock market to record levels and creating a housing bubble across the country. These programs were removed from the latest stimulus bill after pressure from Republicans, but they are likely to be restarted with a Democrat-led Congress.

“If the measure of a nation is how it cares for its most vulnerable members, we are failing in all areas and actually making the problem worse through policies that benefit only a small number of people at the top” said Green Party National Co-Chair Tony Ndege. “Further government action must benefit the majority of people and focus on those most in need.”

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