Americans are getting more relief in the midst of the pandemic.
Millions of Americans have lost their jobs or struggled with income loss since the start of the pandemic. Some relief has been available -- boosted unemployment benefits, stimulus checks -- but it's fallen short for a lot of households. In fact, many people have exhausted their savings in the course of the coronavirus outbreak and are now running on fumes.
Thankfully, President Biden has made it clear he's committed to providing aid and helping Americans get through the ongoing crisis. Last week, he released the details of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package -- a plan that includes yet another round of stimulus checks, this time worth $1,400 apiece. And in one of his first moves as president, he also extended the federal ban on evictions through March of 2021.
Some renters are on the cusp of homelessness
An estimated 14 million Americans have fallen behind on their rent in the course of the pandemic. Those same people risk losing their homes if they can't find the money to catch up. Thankfully, landlords are now barred from evicting non-paying tenants through March of 2021. Furthermore, Biden is expected to ask lawmakers to keep the existing eviction ban in place through September of 2021. Given where things stand on the pandemic front, it stands to reason that a lot of people will not have recovered by late March. As such, it's crucial to offer that protection through September.
Is banning evictions enough?
An extended eviction ban is a helpful measure in its own right. But ultimately, it may not address the greater crisis at hand. There's long been a glaring lack of affordable housing and many Americans couldn't comfortably pay for their homes even before the pandemic. While the $900 billion coronavirus relief bill that was passed into law in late December did include $25 billion in rental assistance, it's estimated that Americans are behind on more like $100 billion in rent. And given the number of people who remain unemployed, the longer the pandemic drags on, the deeper renters will collectively wind up digging themselves into that hole.
Of course, asking landlords to simply take a hit isn't the answer either. Many landlords earn their primary living from rental properties and will risk losing those homes to foreclosure if tenants continue to not pay. And while there are foreclosure moratoriums in place, those, too, may have an eventual expiration date.
As part of his campaign, Biden pledged to increase funding for housing vouchers and establish a renter's tax credit that will help lower-income families keep up with their housing expenses. He also plans to introduce a $15,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers to help more families gain housing stability. With a Democrat-controlled Senate in his corner, we can bet that Biden will push for relief both on an immediate and long-term basis. And that should, at the very least, give those who are struggling to pay their rent a small dose of comfort.
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