SAN FRANCISCO – On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi closed Congress without getting the votes needed to extend the eviction moratorium which expired on Saturday night, leaving millions of Americans to face losing their homes during the second-largest surge of the COVID-19 pandemic. The next morning, a group of her constituents, many of whom are facing eviction, was on her doorstep, demanding a vote on legislation to extend the moratorium. They posted a mock eviction notice on Pelosi’s door and set up a tent outside her mansion on Millionaires’ Row in Pacific Heights.
“We’re out here on Millionaires’ Row for all those who can’t be,” said Jackie Fielder, former candidate for California state senate. “As someone who’s been housing insecure before, I feel the anger and frustration with a Democrat-majority Congress.”
The demonstration was called in solidarity with Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri, who on Friday shared an open letter to her colleagues in Congress imploring Pelosi to reconvene the House and allow a vote on the extension of the eviction moratorium and fight for those facing the loss of their shelter during yet another surge of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the letter, Bush committed to camping out on the steps of the House of Representatives in hopes of inspiring her colleagues to join her.
“I have been unhoused and evicted,” she wrote in her letter. “I’ve slept in my car and slept outdoors. I know what it’s like, and I wouldn’t wish that trauma on anyone. … I cannot in good conscience leave Washington tonight while a Democratic-controlled government allows millions of people to go unhoused as the Delta variant is ravaging our communities.”
The day before the moratorium was set to expire, Rep. Maxine Waters of California introduced legislation that would extend the moratorium through December 2021. But Pelosi called the Congressional session to a close without a formal vote on the proposal, despite publicly saying the extension was a “moral imperative.”
Due to recent accommodations during the pandemic, members of Congress do not have to be physically located in Washington to vote, and can use a proxy system to vote remotely within the seven weeks that Congress is currently adjourned. A brief session to take a roll call vote on the eviction moratorium is possible, but it won’t happen unless Pelosi changes course and calls Congress back into session. Failure to do so would mean leaving our nation’s most vulnerable without protection from eviction and out on the streets.
The risk of millions of Americans suddenly becoming homeless is intensified as the U.S. is currently experiencing a horrific surge of COVID-19 cases to date, as the delta variant spreads rapidly. Over 11 million renters currently owe back rent to their landlords, according to Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics as reported in Bloomberg CityLab, and will be vulnerable without the eviction moratorium.