“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.
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.
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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 →
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.
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 →
“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.”
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 →
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 work, uninsured, hungry, 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 →
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 →
Toilet paper shelves at a Costco in Maine. Photo: Amanda Hill/Twitter
The run on toilet paper has brought the failings of capitalism front and center to the bathroom of every house across Australia, a trend that has now spread to other countries. We are witnessing, in real-time and with stunning consequence, the stone-cold fact that markets are an ineffective mediator of resources, prone to the worst vagaries of herd mentality. Perceived impending shortages of toilet paper owing to the spread of COVID-19 set off widespread panic. We might be inclined to laugh at the implausibility of the whole scenario, but whether the situation is real or imagined is beside the point. The truth, which in this case may appear stranger than fiction, is that markets operate in the sweet spot between scarcity and fear. Continue reading →
Two congresswomen are expected to introduce legislation banning the use of facial recognition surveillance in public housing this week. Photo: Change.org
Privacy and civil liberties advocates applauded a pair of Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday as they prepared to introduce legislation to protect public housing residents from the rise of facial recognition surveillance.
In a letter sent to their fellow members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) invited co-sponsors for the No Biometric Barriers to Housing Act, which would stop public housing complexes which accept funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) from installing facial recognition tools. Continue reading →
The Maria Isabel Housing project, in the Bronx. Photo: Jim Henderson (public domain)
Using the federal agency that oversees public housing to wage its latest attack on immigrants, the Trump administration has proposed a rule that critics warn would result in tens of thousands of children being evicted from their homes.
Weeks after announcing it would tighten restrictions on undocumented immigrants who live in public housing, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) unveiled a proposal on Friday which would take away all housing aid from families with at least one member who is an undocumented immigrant. Continue reading →
Anti-Amazon demonstrators attended an Arlington County Board hearing Saturday to demand the board vote against $23 million in financial incentives for Amazon, which is planning to build a headquarters in Crystal City. (Photo: @hqpoo/Twitter)
Anti-Amazon protesters in Arlington County, Virginia were outraged Saturday after the county board dismissed outright their concerns over the corporate giant’s decision to build a headquarters in Crystal City—voting unanimously to approve $23 million in tax incentives for the company.
The 5-0 vote followed hours of testimony by Amazon representatives, supporters, and opponents of the plan, with critics arguing that the trillion-dollar company has no need for financial incentives and that its presence in Crystal City will negatively impact lower-income residents and public services. Continue reading →