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Campaign Updates

01/20/2021 | Organizing for Housing Justice & A Home to Thrive

Opinion: To President-elect Biden: Families need your immediate action to protect the up to 40 million Americans at risk of eviction.

Today, on President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration day, North Carolina resident Amy Cooper is going to eviction court to convince a judge to let her and her family stay in their home.

Here is her story:

Today, on President Joe Biden’s Inauguration Day, I am going to eviction court in Alamance County, North Carolina—where I will try to convince a judge to let my five kids and me stay in our home.

I am just one of up to 40 million renters across the country who could be put on the street when eviction protections expire, and have no idea how we could pay back rent since the pandemic started. My family has been housing insecure for years, but COVID has made it so much worse. We don’t even qualify for the CDC Eviction Moratorium, because our landlord has decided to not renew our lease. This is not the first time we have been evicted but before COVID, we could find another place to live. The coronavirus has made it almost impossible to find a home. We thought we’d be able to find something else, but there is no housing available during a pandemic.

Both my husband and I have been to prison, and when I came back from prison, I wanted to turn my life around and create as much good in the world as I could. But now, it seems like the world is telling us we don’t deserve a home. I don’t think that’s right—how could anyone not deserve a place to live?

Here’s what I think: no one should ever be forced to live on the street. Especially children. That’s why I joined a group of mothers across the country who have said that they will stay in their homes and resist our evictions with our communities.

On this day when President Joe Biden moves with his family into government-funded housing, I literally do not know where my family will be sleeping after February 1st. There are tens of millions of American renters who don’t know where they will be sleeping in the next month.

I hope Joe Biden understands that he faces a huge, unprecedented housing crisis--and that he needs to act on DAY ONE–today–for renters.

I’m Bree Newsome Bass, and I am an organizer with a statewide housing justice coalition here in North Carolina, where we hear stories like Amy’s every day.

In the midst of the greatest health and economic crisis in a century, millions of Americans have been abandoned. Because everyone understands that housing is health care, even under Donald Trump the Center for Disease Control has said that stable housing needs to be protected in the interest of public health during this pandemic. Instead, weak eviction protections and months of back rent are threatening as many as 40 million renters. From a public health perspective alone, housing insecurity joins the vaccine rollout as the central crisis President Biden must address today.

We are building a grassroots movement led by tenants, and our people power has transformed the political landscape of the country. Mothers and families are calling on President Biden to guarantee housing as a human right to address head on the economic and public health crisis families like Amy’s are facing every day. Families across the country need both immediate short term action as well as long term protections for tenants; they can’t wait any longer for relief.

President-elect Biden should issue a universal eviction moratorium covering every renter in the country and cancel rent and mortgage payments. The new administration must pass expansive tenant protections, regulate the predatory actions of corporate landlords in the housing market, and invest significant resources in the preservation and expansion of public housing. If it weren’t for millions of at-risk mothers, renters, and their families braving intimidation and the virus to vote, Joe Biden would not be taking the oath of office today. It’s time to honor their resilience by recognizing housing as a human right—today.

Racial justice activist Amy Cooper’s eviction hearing takes place in Alamance County (NC) on Inauguration Day.  Bree Newsome Bass is a North Carolina-based housing activist who is an organizer with the NC Statewide Housing Justice Coalition and the #NeedaHome2StayAtHome Campaign.