With just a few months left in the year, Congress must do its job and address the housing crisis.
According to recently released survey data by the U.S. Census Bureau, 43% of households earning $50,000 or less were spending over half of their income on rent. It’s a common rule of thumb that your housing cost should be no more than 30% of your gross income. But with rising housing costs and stagnant wages, that’s becoming more and more unachievable.
Right now, a full-time worker needs to earn $25.82 per hour to afford a modest, two-bedroom rental home and $21.25 per hour to afford a modest, one-bedroom rental home.
Eviction rates are back to pre-pandemic levels, with Black people and Latino people disproportionately facing the highest rates. 13% of Black renters have faced the threat of eviction, which is nearly double the rate of white renters.
The affordable housing crisis has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic and rising inflation. The time for Congress to act is now. We demand:
An expansion of housing vouchers to at least an additional 200,000 households.
Significant funding to preserve and operate public housing ($5.125 billion for the Public Housing Capital Fund, and $5.06 billion for the Public Housing Operating Fund).
$3.6 billion for HUD’s Homeless Assistance Grants program to address the needs of people experiencing homelessness.
$100 million for legal assistance to prevent evictions.
$300 million for the competitive tribal housing program, targeted to tribes with the greatest needs.
If Congress can afford to give billions of dollars in tax breaks to the wealthy and major corporations, they can certainly afford to house people living in the U.S.
The post-pandemic planning edition. The rapid decrease in the number of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. has prompted speculation that maybe, possibly, perhaps, the end of the pandemic is in sight. We can’t say for sure – we’ve been down that road before.
But we can ask ourselves a fundamental question. When the pandemic recedes, do we want to go back to the pre-pandemic days? Or do we want to build something better, something lasting, something that boldly addresses the weaknesses and systemic inequities that predated COVID-19?
Let’s reflect. Even before the pandemic hit, we were in the midst of a child care crisis. It hampered our economy when some women raising children chose not to work, not because they didn’t want to, but because of child care’s escalating cost. We were in a home care crisis, when at least 800,000 older Americans or Americans with disabilities were on waiting lists for the care they need in order to live independently.
We were in a housing crisis, with the stock of available housing woefully inadequate to meet our country’s low-income housing needs. And today, rents are simply spiraling out of control (see below).
We were in a health coverage crisis, with 2.2 million poor adults ineligible for Medicaid in 12 states and millions more needing improvements in the premium subsidies in the Affordable Care Act as well as help with the high cost of prescription drugs.
We were in a child poverty crisis – the Child Tax Credit expansion included in the March 2021 American Rescue Plan temporarily addressed that, but now poverty is returning in all its cruel vengeance.
Here’s an example of how that CTC expansion helped – for a time, at least – and how it could do so again. Take a family earning just $2,000 in annual income, with two children ages 4 and 8. That family received $550 a month under the expanded CTC payments, which expired in December. This year, if Congress does not act, the family will get nothing.
The pandemic is not over yet, of course. It is still cutting into workers’ wages and sending people to the hospital. We need Congress to respond, with help needed now and for our future.
We can still have a plan that addresses most of these crises – and another human needs crisis as well, climate change. We might not get everything we want in one fell swoop – history is rarely like that. But we still can pass something historic.
It is not too late to call your Senators.
As of February 3, 356,256 new COVID-19 cases and 2,632 deaths were reported in the U.S. That’s a 52 percent decrease in new daily cases compared to 14 days ago – but a 30 percent increase in deaths. Throughout the pandemic, deaths have been a lagging indicator, with increases following rising cases after some weeks. Tweet this.
Two-thirds of hourly workers reported going to work sick during the fall of 2021, primarily for financial reasons, according to a recent Harvard University study. This probably contributed to the spread of COVID-19, causing more workers and their families to become ill, worsening the surge in cases and adding to the strain on hospitals and hospital staff. Tweet this.
The number of workers who missed work in early January 2022 because they had COVID-19 symptoms or were caring for someone who did, according to a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis of Census Bureau survey data. That’s a monthly record for any time during the pandemic. Tweet this.
Average rents across the nation rose 14 percent in 2021 and are expected to rise another 10 percent in 2022. Cities like Austin, New York, and Miami saw increases as much as 40 percent. Tweet this.
3 in 10
Three in 10 parents of children younger than age 5 now say they intend to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as shots become available for that age group, according to a surveypublished this week by the Kaiser Family Foundation. That’s up from about one in five responding in July. Tweet this.
More than 3,100 detainees, or about 14 percent of those being held in federal immigration detention centers, have COVID-19. That is well past the peak of 2,100 reported last May. Immigrant advocates note that booster shots are not readily available in detention centers.
Americans cumulatively have lost 13.5 million years of life since the pandemic began, according to a new study. A similar study conducted by the same researchers showed we had lost a cumulative 9 million years of life as of last summer – meaning that the total has gone up by about 50 percent since then, in large part because more people are dying at younger ages. Blacks and Latinos lost disproportionately more years of life relative to the population.
More than nine in ten families with children earning less than $35,000 annually used the 2021 Child Tax Credit expansion to buy food, clothing, school supplies, pay their utility bills, or cover the rent. That’s according to an analysisof Census Bureau data by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
How much a family with children with less than $2,500 in annual earnings will receive if the 2021 Child Tax Credit is not extended in 2022. (In 2021, families this poor could receive $3,000 – $3,600 per child.) If the CTC reverts to pre-2021 law, families with such low incomes will be too poor to receive the Child Tax Credit’s help.
The percent of frontline workers who reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder during the first half of January 2022, according to the Census Bureau’s latest Household Pulse Survey. For all other in-person workers, the share that reported those symptoms was about 31 percent.