Category Archives: Housing

America ‘Should Be Ashamed’: Texas Teen Forced to Use College Savings to Prevent Mom’s Eviction

“Americans owe $70 billion in back rent that they won’t be able to pay. If we don’t get them relief, there will be millions of stories like these.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-10-2021

“This is not a feel-good story,” said Public Citizen on Tuesday, February 9, 2021. “It’s a dystopian nightmare.” (Photo: Twitter screengrab from ABC7 News)

After Alondra Carmona, a high school senior in Houston, recently exhausted all of her college savings to prevent her unemployed mother from being evicted, one media outlet on Tuesday tried to portray it as an “act of kindness,” but progressives are emphasizing that the all-too-common story is an indictment of a deeply unequal society reliant on private charity as a result of policymakers’ failure to guarantee livable incomes, affordable housing and higher education, and more.

“In February of 2020, my mom broke her ankle and was not able to work,” Carmona explained in a GoFundMe ad she created to support her family. “Come March, the coronavirus started, which added to the financial problems we already had. Today, I found out that my mom has not had a job for 3 months and hid it from us. She owes two months of rent and will most likely get evicted in March.” Continue reading

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UN Human Rights Expert Urges US to Lift Sanctions That ‘May Exacerbate the Already Dire Humanitarian Situation in Syria’

After nearly a decade of war, the special rapporteur noted, Syrians are living with “extensively damaged houses, medical units, schools, and other facilities.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-29-2020

A study published last year by Amnesty International found that the U.S.-led bombing campaign on Raqqa, Syria in 2017 killed an estimated 1,600 innocent civilians while leveling the city. (Photo: Amnesty International)

A United Nations human rights expert on Tuesday called for the removal of unilateral U.S. sanctions targeting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, warning that despite claims by the Trump administration and congressional leaders that the measures aren’t intended to harm the people of war-torn Syria, they may do just that.

“The sanctions violate the human rights of the Syrian people, whose country has been destroyed by almost 10 years of ongoing conflict,” said Alena Douhan, U.N. special rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights. “The conflict and violence have already had a dire impact on the ability of the Syrian people to realize their fundamental rights, having extensively damaged houses, medical units, schools, and other facilities.” Continue reading

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Wall Street Titan Gloats Over Pandemic Profits From Rentals as Eviction Tsunami Looms

“Blackstone was a huge winner coming out of the global financial crisis, and I think something similar is going to happen,” said the private equity firm’s billionaire CEO Stephen Schwarzman as millions brace for eviction.

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-15-2020

Diane Yentel of the National Low Income Housing Coalition said that the consequences of congressional inaction on housing relief “will be deadly and costly—for children and families, for communities, and for our country’s ability to contain the pandemic.” Stephen Schwarzman photo: World Economic Forum/flickr/CC

As the December 31 expiration date on the CDC’s federal eviction moratorium nears in the midst of the surging Covid-19 pandemic and freezing weather, an estimated 30 to 40 million working-class households in the United States are bracing for the possibility of eviction—but at least one Wall Street investor looking to capitalize on the crisis is bragging about what he sees as a golden opportunity to expand his real estate empire.

“You always have winners and losers—Blackstone was a huge winner coming out of the global financial crisis, and I think something similar is going to happen,” said the billionaire CEO Stephen Schwarzman. Continue reading

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With Rent Freezes About to Expire, Mnuchin Lobbies for More Wall Street Bailouts

As millions of Americans stand on the brink of economic annihilation, the money keeps flowing to Wall Street thanks to carefully contrived mechanisms to maintain a dying financial system afloat.

By Raul Diego  Published 12-4-2020 by MintPress News

Steven Mnuchin. Photo: White House

Many prophetic scenes depicted in a series of Mayan codices written in the early days of the Spanish colony, and translated and compiled in El Libro de los Libros del Chilam Balam, describe a world foreign to its original authors. But, one which was barreling down on them and their civilization even as the Mayan high priests recorded their visions for each stop on their cyclical calendar system.

The metaphors they leaned on to describe these new Western values and systems were accurate, despite having nothing comparable in their own cosmology or parallels in their relationship with the earth. In one of the most striking prophecies, the interpreting shaman warns of the days of “the golden club,” subtly alluding to the new paradigm of wealth and commercial imperatives being imposed on their world. Continue reading

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‘Housing Is Healthcare’: Evictions Have Exacerbated Covid-19 Pandemic, Research Shows

“This is a time where it’s not an overstatement to say that for many people, eviction can lead to death.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-30-2020

Image: Emily A. Benfer/Twitter

“There is no way for a vaccine to be successful without addressing the eviction crisis.”

That’s how housing justice advocate Emily Benfer, a law professor at Wake Forest University, put it when describing her co-authored research, which found that the premature expiration of state eviction bans led to more than 433,000 excess Covid-19 cases and 10,700 preventable deaths in the United States between March and September.

Although the CDC issued a national eviction moratorium in early September to reduce the transmission of the coronavirus, thousands of tenants across the United States had already been displaced prior to that as a result of uneven state-level protections. Continue reading

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A Deputy Prosecutor Was Fired for Speaking Out Against Jail Time for People Who Fall Behind on Rent

Arkansas prosecutor Josh Drake called the state’s criminal eviction statute “cruel” and “unconstitutional.” Criminal charges against tenants falling behind on rent have continued, even as the pandemic has worsened.

By Maya Miller and Ellis Simani  Published 11-27-2020 by ProPublica

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

An Arkansas prosecutor has been fired after speaking out against the state’s criminal eviction statute in an October ProPublica story. Garland County deputy prosecutor Josh Drake was let go from his position on Oct. 31 by Michelle Lawrence, the prosecuting attorney.

Arkansas is the only state where landlords can file criminal charges rather than civil complaints against tenants for falling behind on rent. Drake told ProPublica, “I hate that law. It’s unconstitutional.” It constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, he said, echoing other Arkansas legal experts and advocates across the political spectrum. Continue reading

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Kushner-Linked Firm and Gig Economy Set to Reap Huge Profits as Mass Evictions Begin

With threats of homelessness and bankruptcy in the air as the eviction moratoriums subside, both renters and small landlords are getting pinched by predatory tech capitalism as the gig-economy hits the real estate market.

By Raul Diego. Published 9-23-2020 by MintPress News

Photo: DLPNG

In 2014, former Blackstone and Goldman Sachs investment banker Ryan Williams got together with his “college buddy,” Joshua Kushner – Jared’s brother – to form a real estate investment platform they called Cadre. Cadre sought to disrupt the real estate industry in the wake of the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis by tinderizing property deals through a tech platform that brought investors and sellers together. According to Williams, whose other investors include George Soros and Peter Theil, Cadre’s mission is “to level the playing field in an industry that is often tilted toward the biggest players” by taking an “offline” industry online and making it “transparent.”

A pre-Covid initiative to capitalize on its platform came in the form of the so-called “opportunity zones,” that Jared Kushner directly lobbied for inclusion in Trump’s 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act, billed as a funding mechanism to help poor and distressed communities, which turned into a multi-billion-dollar land heist by the wealthiest Americans, like the Kushner family. The pandemic lockdown protocols forced Cadre to downsize, laying off 25 percent of its workforce in March. Continue reading

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‘Ticking Time Bomb’: Corporate Lawyers Openly Discussing Suing Nations Over Profits Lost to Covid-19 Measures

“It’s so unbelievably shocking to see corporate lawyers actively discussing having foreign investors use ISDS to challenge countries over their coronavirus lockdown measures, and try to extract ‘expected future profits’ from them.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-20-2020

Lidia Senra speaking against ISDS in the European Parliament in February 2019. Photo: Lidia Senra/Twitter

Prominent corporate law firms representing major businesses in the United States, Italy, Spain, and other nations are openly discussing the possibility of companies using a secretive and notorious legal process to sue countries over future profits lost due to government efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, the non-profit research group Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) documented numerous examples of high-powered corporate law firms—including Ropes & Gray, Alston & Bird, and Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan—publicly licking their chops over the lucrative opportunity presented by the Covid-19 crisis and government attempts to fight it. Continue reading

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‘National Day of Mourning’ Protests This Week to Condemn GOP Failures Amid Mass Suffering Caused by Covid-19

“This should be political suicide. Let’s make sure it is.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-18-2020

Photo: Sarah Sophie Flicker/Twitter

With Republicans in Congress stonewalling the possibility of any additional coronavirus relief even as tens of millions of people across the U.S are newly out of workuninsuredhungry, and unable to afford rent, a coalition of progressive advocacy groups is planning nationwide protests this week to condemn GOP obstruction and demand the urgent passage of desperately needed aid for people and families.

On Wednesday, funeral-style actions in more than 20 states across the country will mourn the nearly 90,000 people who have died of Covid-19 and denounce President Donald Trump and the GOP for failing to take sufficiently urgent and bold action against the pandemic. The “National Day of Mourning” was organized by MoveOn, Indivisible, the Center for Popular Democracy, and other groups. Continue reading

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‘Beyond Predatory’: Trump Treasury Department Gives Banks Green Light to Seize $1,200 Stimulus Checks to Pay Off Debts

“The Treasury Department is pointing out opportunities for banks and debt collectors to steal Americans’ relief checks out from under them.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-14-2020

Steve Mnuchin. Screenshot: CNN

President Donald Trump’s Treasury Department has given U.S. banks a green light to seize a portion or all of the one-time $1,200 coronavirus relief payments meant to help Americans cope with financial hardship and instead use the money to pay off individuals’ outstanding debts—a move consumer advocates decried as cruel and unacceptable.

“The Treasury Department effectively blessed this activity on a webinar with banking officials last Friday,” The American Prospect‘s David Dayen reported Tuesday. Continue reading

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