July 01, 2020

Wyden Joins Colleagues on the Senate Floor to Demand Assistance for Renters During COVID-19

As Prepared for Delivery

Madam President, I’m joining my colleagues here this afternoon to talk about the avalanche of evictions that may be headed our way in a matter of weeks if the Senate does not act.

The pandemic is getting worse. Yesterday Dr. Fauci talked about soon possibly seeing 100,000 new cases a day. You cannot have a healthy economy in a country suffering from mass illness and death. There are already tens of millions of Americans out of work as a result of a pandemic that’s only continuing to spread.

According to the Census Bureau, 40 percent of Black and Latino renters are worried they won’t be able to make rent this summer due to the pandemic. That is an outrage and a severe injustice.

So here’s the question for my Republican colleagues: today is July first, and the rent is due – what is your plan to help?

Democrats fought for the moratorium on evictions that was included in the CARES Act. But that expires in a few weeks.

Already this week, my Republican colleagues have blocked funding for state and local governments that could have been used to help people who are walking an economic tightrope.

This morning Leader Schumer and I have called for an extension of supercharged unemployment benefits, which have been a financial lifeline for millions and millions of people. Republicans blocked that, too. Those benefits are also on track to expire in a matter of weeks.

What is your plan to help?

Let’s be clear on what’s at stake in this debate. Long before the pandemic hit this country, housing cost too much and homelessness was way too common. And in my view, the rate of homelessness particularly among children in America is a national scandal. In the wealthiest nation on Earth, no child should be without a home.

But even before this COVID crisis, one and a half million children in America were experiencing homelessness. One and a half million youngsters living outside, living in cars, sleeping on floors, sleeping on the ground. In Oregon, school buses were picking up children from parks, where they were living in tents with their families. Those awful conditions exist for youngsters all over the country. And that was before this joblessness crisis hit and threw so many more working families into economic hardship.

That is a national scandal, and if the Senate doesn’t step up to help families stay in their homes, it’s going to get a whole lot worse. Because there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of kids facing a recipe for disaster. They’re out of school and they’re isolated. They’re more exposed to neglect and abuse. They may be hungry. And their families are facing the threat of eviction.

If the Senate just sits back and allows these children to fall into homelessness, they may never have a chance to get ahead.

So the Senate has an obligation to help. Senator Brown is absolutely right to call for the Senate to pass the Emergency Rental Assistance Act. I’m behind him 100 percent in that effort. I think it’s a vital step forward, and I think he’d agree we also need to take a lot more.

I can guarantee that my colleagues and I are going to be back here every month talking about this crisis, calling on our Republican colleagues to act. Because this country faces a truly horrific eviction nightmare if we do not act soon.