Rep. Cori Bush says Congress needs to work to make sure “people have a footing” after new eviction moratorium ends

Congresswoman Cori Bush is calling on lawmakers to work to make sure that “people have a footing” after the new eviction moratorium ends. Bush, who was once “houseless” herself, said on CBSN Wednesday that Congress needs to look at what it can do right now to make sure that after the moratorium expires on October 3 it has “exhausted” government money available to help people.

“This has bought Congress some time to see what it is that we need to do,” Bush said. “One issue that we have is this 40 plus billion dollars that is sitting in those state and those local government coffers that we need to get out to the people. We need to get it out and see where we are, believing that this will help to get the country back on track as far as those that are possibly facing evictions.” 

During the pandemic, Congress approved over $46 billion in rental assistance for families affected by the pandemic. But Bush said discrepancies in application lengths and qualifications have bottlenecked local and state governments from processing and distributing the funds. As of the end of June, tenants in need had received only $3 billion of the funds. 

Bush said she and other representatives in Congress have been working since January to help come up with a permanent solution, as the deadline for the end of the first eviction moratorium inched closer and closer. That moratorium expired over the weekend. 

“This didn’t just pop up,” Bush said. “We weren’t just laying down allowing this to happen. We were acting in our capacity to try to see this thing happen.”

Over the weekend, the congresswoman slept outside of the Capitol to protest the end of the moratorium. 

“I have been evicted three times myself. I know what it’s like to be forced to live in my car with my two children,” Bush wrote in an open letter to her colleagues. “Now that I am a member of Congress, I refuse to stand by while millions of people are vulnerable to experiencing that same trauma that I did.”

In accordance with a recent Supreme Court ruling preventing a new moratorium by executive action, both the White House and Congress stalled on extending the moratorium, calling on the other to act and leaving millions of U.S. tenants once again in fear of losing their homes. 

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control issued the new temporary eviction moratorium ,which replaces the one that expired on August 1 but faces heavy challenges on its legality. 

With the new ban expiring in October, Bush told CBS News that the “victory” of the new moratorium was just a “step to stave off what was happening,” and called on Congress to “do the work” to make sure families aren’t put in this position again. 

When asked about permanent solutions, Bush said that a myriad of problems make the issue much more complicated and can only be solved through addressing what the housing crisis looked like before the pandemic. 

But the eviction moratorium gives representatives time to act and provide those in danger of becoming homeless with funds as quickly as possible. 

“I was thinking that because we were talking about millions of people being forced out of their homes, that this could not happen,” Bush said. “It’s unconscionable that this could happen, so that’s how I looked at it.” 

“I love the people, 100%,” she added. “I don’t care what your occupation is. I don’t care if you like me at all. I’m still gonna do the work to make sure your family has clean water, clean air, healthcare, a place to live and all of that. Because that is who we have to be.” 

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