CHN’s COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship November 25, 2020
November 25, 2020
Hunger at Thanksgiving edition. Heroic efforts are being made by food banks nationwide to provide food for families who do not have enough to eat. Here’s what they’re up against: more than 25 million people reported during the period from October 28 – November 9 that in the prior week, their households sometimes or often did not have enough to eat. Look below at the increasing percentages. If someone in the household lost earnings, 20 percent were going without food. If an adult stopped working to stay home to care for a child, 25 percent were going without food. And if they were not current in their rent, fully 37% did not have enough to eat in the previous week. The connection between unstable housing and hunger is clear. Boston Medical Center’s Grow Clinic sees the connection in its increasing caseload of babies and toddlers, whose health and development are suffering. The connection between lost work and housing instability is clear. Reduced earnings means unpaid bills, including rent and utilities.
Congress did a very good thing when it passed the CARES Act and provided expanded unemployment benefits and stimulus checks. Those benefits helped families to keep up with their bills. Now that assistance is expiring – the last checks go out December 26. According to a report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, if Congress reinstates the pandemic unemployment benefits, it will enable families to pay much more of their back rent, staving off evictions for millions. If Congress does nothing, by January millions will owe on average over $6,000 in back rent. That’s more than most will be able to pay.
The connection between Congressional inaction and harm to families is also clear. Senators who so far have refused to act will return from their Thanksgiving break, almost certainly well-fed, while long lines of cars continue to assemble at food distribution sites. On the day before Thanksgiving, there were only 31 days until the last Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation checks will be issued, and only 31 days until the CDC eviction moratorium expires.
As COVID-19 cases continue to surge (by more than 1.2 million in the past seven days), and deaths rise by 61 percent (more than 11,000 in the past week), more people will lose earnings and will struggle to pay their bills. Unemployment claims rose yet again for the week ending November 21, to 1.09 million, counting the soon to expire Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (for gig and self-employed workers).
Even if you’ve written before, please tell your Senators that time is running out for their constituents. Click here to send them emails telling them we are facing a national emergency and public health crisis – they must act. On this holiday of Thanksgiving, we are very grateful for your willingness to act.