Should the package go through, neither of the measures will likely be enough to keep the most at-risk renters in their homes past January.
“While extending the CDC eviction moratorium for just one month is insufficient to keep people housed for the duration of the pandemic, the extension provides essential and immediate protection for millions of renters on the verge of losing their homes in January,” said Diane Yentel, president and chief executive of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
Once the moratoriums are lifted, many of these renters will be expected to pay their entire back rent or come up with some sort of payment plan with their landlord — or they could face losing their home.
CNN Business spoke with several renters who have been struggling to afford their monthly payments as a result of the pandemic.
‘Money is piling up against me’
Kelly Green, who lives in a $1,429-a-month apartment in Daytona Beach, Florida, has not been able to pay rent since September.
“The only reason I have a roof over my head is because of the eviction moratorium,” Green said.
Green makes her living selling rhinestone- and sequined-biker apparel at motorcycle rallies and other festivals.
After the shutdown in March, there were no festivals, no events and she had no income. Still, she cobbled together her savings, stimulus payment, rent relief and unemployment insurance payments and managed to get current on her rent through July. But she didn’t know how she’d make ends meet after the $600 a week supplemental unemployment support ended.
Green heard about a coronavirus-related rent relief fund offered by Volusia County, where she lives. She applied for assistance and was awarded $4,500 for three months’ rent.
“I thought, ‘Great!’ that will pay a few months’ rent, and I can move out in November when my current lease is over and I’ll still have a good credit rating that will allow me to rent myself another apartment,” she said.
Without that money, Green was unable to pay full rent for October, November or December. And since she overstayed her lease in November, she’s now on a month-to-month lease that is $500 more expensive a month.
“Even if the moratorium is extended, money is piling up against me,” she said. “What would help me the most is if I receive a check for rental assistance for three months, that they take it.”
She knows it doesn’t make sense to stay and watch the amount she owes grow, but she said she doesn’t know where she’ll go without putting friends and family at risk of coronavirus exposure.
“It totally depresses you,” she said. “You feel like giving up. Where will I go when the CDC order expires, and I have this eviction on my record?”
Have to be out by Christmas
Mercedes Darby lives in a three-bedroom apartment in Nashville with her three high school-aged children and her daughter, Princess Thomas, who is in college. The two usually split the rent. But since both were laid off in March, they have not been able to afford the $1,250 a month rent since April and currently owe $9,000 in back rent and fees.
Even though Darby provided her landlord with a CDC declaration, which protects the family from being evicted for non-payment, they are now being evicted for a separate lease violation — Darby’s name is not on the lease.
Darby says the lease is in Thomas’ name, but she has been living there since they got the apartment a year and a half ago together and she has been making payments all along.
After missing a December 15th eviction court date, there was a default judgment giving the family 10 days to leave. So Darby is packing everything she owns to put in storage.
“We have to be out by Christmas Day or they will have the sheriffs in here,” she said. “With no money, I have to find a temporary place.”
Darby was laid off from her job handling member services at a large insurance company in March. She had been looking for a new apartment since July. But even after paying the application fees, she was repeatedly turned down because of her credit history and a prior bankruptcy. Now her daughter is likely to have trouble, too, because of this eviction.
In November, Darby was rehired to a similar job and money has been coming in again. But she now has to pay a lot more in fees and deposit money for an apartment because of her history.
“I have a good paying job,” she said. “I make enough, if you didn’t want triple the amount upfront.”
For now, she’s looking for a place for her family to stay through the holidays while she finds a more permanent home and prepares for her court date in February on the back rent she owes.
“We don’t have anywhere to go,” she said. “We don’t have family here and our friends can’t take all of us. I’m going to try to find a hotel. But that will take all the money I have to put toward another apartment.”
Waiting for rent relief
Bryan Clift’s work as a waiter in suburban Minneapolis dried up last March, at the same time school for his 10-year-old daughter Iyla moved online. Iyla’s mother, who she did not see regularly, died a few weeks ago. Now Clift is about $2,000 behind on rent and they are in danger of facing eviction.
“My daughter is everything I got,” he said. “I put her ahead of everything. Making sure she has a roof over her head and food on the table is the most important thing.”
They fared okay through the summer, with the unemployment insurance payments he received. But when the $600 in weekly supplemental payments expired, he feared he would fall behind on his $1,500 a month rent for the two-bedroom apartment.
“When I saw my savings go down I went to talk to the leasing people, who I’ve always had a good relationship with,” he said. “I said I’m going to try to do my best. They suggested I apply for some rent relief.”
He has applied for and expects to receive relief money from Prism, a local social services nonprofit. But it is not in hand yet.
“It is a waiting game,” he said. “If you’re going to ask for any aid right now it will take a while.”
With this anticipated support, he’s hoping to bridge the gap in income until he can work again.
“I could go get a job now,” he said. “I want to. I don’t like sitting around. But without the schools open, I can’t go to work. If something doesn’t change for me in the next few months, what am I going to do? I pushed back every bill that I can. And this rent relief will help, but for how long?”
Any additional help from the government is welcome, he said, but, “I could do without the stimulus check if I had better unemployment, because you can stretch that out longer.”
Evicted despite CDC protections
The worst already happened to Jordan Mills and Jonathan Russell and their two-year-old daughter Valkyrie.
Even though they were protected by the eviction moratorium, a court granted an eviction anyway.
“People like me are still being evicted for non-payment,” she said.
She made a payment arrangement with her landlord, but fell behind by about $450. The property owners filed for eviction citing a violation of one part of the CDC declaration in which Mills agreed to use “best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as the individual’s circumstances may permit.”
Mills drove to the courthouse to appear at her eviction hearing, but says she was unable to attend because she did not have money to pay for parking.
“I couldn’t afford parking, it is all $20,” she said. “I’m literally living hand-to-mouth. I got paid yesterday. I have $4 to my name.”
In May, Mills, who is an assistant manager at a payday loan company, had seen her hours cut. She realized her family was not going to be able to pay their rent along with their high utility bills during the Texas summer.
She applied for and received rental assistance money, a lump sum of $3,500 for three months rent.
When Mills contracted coronavirus, she said, their child care provider dropped them as a precaution and her husband left his job as a security guard to care for Valkyrie full-time, further cutting their income.
After the court ordered their eviction in November, they didn’t wait for the sheriff to arrive. Mills borrowed $1,400 from her mother and moved her family out of the three-bedroom, single-wide mobile home they rented for $1,175 a month and into a 470-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment in San Antonio.
The family’s new apartment is in a building known as “second chance” leasing, for people with evictions or bad credit.
Mills paid dearly for that second chance. In addition to the $750 a month rent, a $299 deposit and a $300 pet deposit, she also had to pay a $650 risk fee because of her history.
“The worst has happened,” she said. “But I’m still afraid how it will affect me when I go to rent somewhere bigger, somewhere more safe. We have roaches. I don’t want to stay here.”
“If there was something for them, they wouldn’t be so quick to turn on the tenants.”
Pelosi to move forward with impeachment if Pence doesn’t act to remove Trump
“In protecting our Constitution and our Democracy, we will act with urgency, because this President represents an imminent threat to both,” Pelosi said in the letter to Democrats on Sunday night laying out next steps.
The House will try to pass a measure on Monday imploring Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, through which he and the Cabinet declare Trump “incapable of executing the duties of his office, after which the Vice President would immediately exercise powers as acting president.” If Republicans object, as is virtually certain, Democrats will pass the bill via a roll call vote on Tuesday.
“We are calling on the Vice President to respond within 24 hours,” Pelosi wrote. “Next, we will proceed with bringing impeachment legislation to the Floor.”
But it’s not clear when exactly the Senate will take up the House’s measure. The Senate isn’t scheduled to return until Jan. 19, but will hold pro forma sessions on Tuesday and Friday. In theory, a senator could try to pass the House resolution by unanimous consent, but as of now it appears unlikely that it would pass.
On Monday, multiple House Democrats plan to introduce impeachment resolutions that would become the basis of any impeachment article considered by the House later this week.
Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who will introduce an article of impeachment against Trump on Monday, said on Sunday that roughly 200 Democrats have co-sponsored the measure.
Currently, 211 voting members (plus three nonvoting members) support Cicilline’s legislation, and they are hoping to reach 217 voting members by Monday morning, enough for the House to impeach Trump, one Democratic source familiar with the matter told POLITICO.
A small number of Democrats have opted not to co-sign the bill, but privately say they will vote to support the resolution on the floor, the source added.
The impeachment effort in the House is likely to be bipartisan, with Democrats expecting at least one GOP lawmaker — Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois — to sign on. A handful of other House Republicans are seriously weighing it, according to several sources, though those lawmakers are waiting to see how Democrats proceed, and some are concerned about dividing the country even further.
Among the GOP members whom Democrats are keeping an eye on are Reps. John Katko of New York, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Fred Upton of Michigan, Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington.
Across the Capitol, at least two Republicans — Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — have called on Trump to resign. On Saturday, Toomey told Fox News, “I do think the president committed impeachable offenses,” but told CNN the next day that he does not believe there is enough time to impeach.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) has also said he would consider articles of impeachment.
Another option has emerged among some Republican and moderate Democratic circles — censuring Trump — though it remains highly unlikely to advance.
A censure resolution would gain far more support in the GOP than impeachment. Some Republicans have privately been pushing for that route and are trying to get Biden on board, according to GOP sources. That group of Republicans is also warning that impeachment could destroy Biden’s reputation with Republicans.
But censure is considered a nonstarter in an incensed House Democratic Caucus, where members see it as a slap on the wrist that gives Republicans an easy out.
The Democrats’ enormous step toward impeachment on Sunday comes after Pelosi and other top Democrats held a private call on Saturday night in which they discussed the potential ramifications that a lengthy impeachment trial could have on Biden’s presidency.
Democratic leaders discussed several options to limit the political effects on Biden’s first 100 days, with one option — floated by House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) — for the House to delay the start of an impeachment trial in the Senate by holding on to the article of impeachment.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has sent out a memo to senators explaining that the Senate could not take up impeachment until Jan. 19 at the earliest, absent unanimous consent.
A final decision has not been made, and House Democrats will discuss the matter on a 2 p.m. caucus call on Monday.
Lawmakers are already privately expressing concerns about returning to the Capitol for multiple days this week, worried about both a potential coronavirus outbreak and whether the building is secure, given how easily an armed pro-Trump mob invaded on Wednesday.
The Capitol physician urged House lawmakers and staff to get tested in a memo Sunday, saying they might have been exposed to someone who had the virus while huddling for safety in a large committee room for hours on Wednesday. During the hourslong lockdown, several Republican members refused to wear masks despite being offered them by Democrats worried about the spread of the deadly virus.
Melanie Zanona, Olivia Beavers and Marianne LeVine contributed to this report.
Matt Hancock Scraps “Unnecessary Training Modules” Blamed For Slowing Vaccine Rollout
5 min read
Matt Hancock said people will no longer need to undertake training including an anti-terrorism course to give the coronavirus jab after MPs said “bureaucratic rubbish” was delaying mass vaccination.
It comes as MPs called for the government to produce targets for the number of people given immunity before lockdown can be lifted.
The health secretary said a series of “unnecessary training modules” are being scrapped to speed up the process of getting people qualified to deliver the jab.
Speaking in the Commons, Sir Edward Leigh said he was shown by his fellow the Tory MP, a qualified GP, the “ridiculous form” he had filled out to start delivering the vaccine.
“When he’s inoculating an old lady, he’s not going to ask her if she’s come into contact with Jihadis or whatever, so the Secretary has got to cut through all this bureaucratic rubbish,” he said.
In response Mr Hancock said: “I am a man after Sir Edward’s heart and I can tell the House that we have removed a series of the unnecessary training modules that had been put in place, including fire safety, terrorism and others.
“I’ll write to him with the full panoply of the training that is not required and we have been able to remove, and we made this change as of this morning and I am glad to say it is enforced.
“I am a fan of busting bureaucracy and in this case I agree with him that it is not necessary to undertake anti-terrorism training in order to inject vaccines.”
Dr Fox had earlier challenged Boris Johnson to drop the “bureaucracy” and “political correctness” of the forms vaccine volunteers must fill out.
He told MPs: “As a qualified but non-practising doctor, I volunteered to help with the scheme and would urge others to do the same.
“But, can I ask the Prime Minister why I’ve been required to complete courses on conflict resolution, equality, diversity and human rights, moving and handling loads and preventing radicalisation in order to give a simple Covid jab?”
Mr Johnson said he had been “assured by the Health Secretary that all such obstacles, all such pointless pettifoggery has been removed”.
The government has been attempting to recruit thousands of volunteers to help with a mass vaccination programme, and with the recent approval of the more easily deliverable Oxford/AstraZeneca version has today revealed the location of seven mass vaccination centres set to open next week.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told journalists at a briefing they would be at Robertson House in Stevenage, the ExCel Centre in London, the Centre for Life in Newcastle, the Etihad Tennis Centre in Manchester, Epsom Downs Racecourse in Surrey, Ashton Gate Stadium in Bristol and Millennium Point in Birmingham, and it is expected they will be run with a combination of NHS staff and volunteers.
But so far the government has not said how many people need to be inoculated before it has an impact on the coronavirus restrictions.
Mr Hancock was asked by a number of MPs if the measures could be eased once the top few tiers in the vaccine priority list had been clear.
Former Conservative chief whip Mark Harper said once the top four groups, which includes care home residents and staff, frontline NHS workers, the clinically extremely vulnerable and everyone over 70 “we’ve taken care therefore of 80% of the risk of death”.
Adding: “What possible reason is there at that point for not rapidly relaxing the restrictions that are in place on the rest of our country?”
The health secretary replied: “We have to see the impact of that vaccination on the reduction in the number of deaths, which I very much hope that we will see at that point, and so that is why we will take this – an evidence-led move down through the tiers, when we’ve broken the link, I hope, between cases and hospitalisations and deaths.”
The ex-Tory minister and another doctor, Andrew Murrison, said: “The logic of anticipating what is going to happen in two or three or four weeks’ time from the number of cases we are getting at the moment is that we can do the same in reverse.
“That is to say, when we have a sufficient number of people vaccinated up we can anticipate in two or three or four weeks’ time how many deaths have been avoided.
“That means, since it cuts both ways he will be able to make a decision on when we should end these restrictions.”
Mr Hancock replied: “The logic of the case that Dr Murrison makes is the right logic and we want to see that happen in empirical evidence on the ground.
“This hope for the weeks ahead doesn’t take away, though, from the serious and immediate threat posed now.”
The Cabinet minister said the challenge for the government is to increase the amount of doses available, claiming “the current rate-limiting factor on the vaccine rollout is the supply of approved, tested, safe vaccine”.
He added: ”We are working with both AstraZeneca and Pfizer to increase that supply as fast as possible and they’re doing a brilliant job.”
But Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth called for the government to ramp up its vaccination programme to six million doses a week.
He told the Commons: “The Prime Minister has promised almost 14 million will be offered the vaccine by mid-Feb. That depends on around two million doses a week on average.
“Both [Mr Hancock] and the Prime Minister have reassured us in recent days that it’s doable based on orders.
“But in the past ministers have told us that they had agreements for 30 million AstraZeneca doses by September 2020 and 10 million of Pfizer doses by the end of 2020.
“So, I think people just want to understand the figures and want clarity. Can ministers tell us how many of the ordered doses have been manufactured?”
Mr Ashworth added: “Two million a week would be fantastic but it should be the limit of our ambitions, we should be aiming to scale up to three, then five, then six million jabs a week over the coming months.”
How South African police are tackling pangolin smugglers
Quiet, solitary and nocturnal, the pangolin has few natural enemies, but researchers believe it is the most trafficked mammal in the world. The tough scales covering its body are sought after for use in Chinese medicine, in the erroneous belief that they have healing properties.
The animal has also been of interest to researchers during the coronavirus pandemic. Related viruses have been found in trafficked pangolins, though there is continued uncertainty around early theories that pangolins were involved in the transmission of the virus from animals to humans.
After South African police seized a pangolin from suspected smugglers, BBC Africa correspondent Andrew Harding witnessed how vets tried to save the animal’s life.
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