Why the Democrats’ New Plan for Eviction Relief Misses the Point

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Photo Credit:Vogue Magazine

Instead of offering legal assistance to those evicted, why not offer rent cancellation?

called for Governor Andrew Cuomo to cancel rent and mortgage payments
at the state level in a virtual town hall in April.
Instead of involving renters in time-consuming and complex legal proceedings just to stay in their homes, wouldn’t it make more sense to take a cue from AOC and put a temporary freeze on rent collection while many Americans are reeling from the greatest economic disaster of our lifetimes? Of course, House and Senate Democrats who backed rent cancellation would face a tremendous amount of GOP pushback that might ultimately prove stymying, but actively fighting to keep American renters housed during a pandemic feels like the bare minimum we should be asking of our elected leaders. People experiencing homelessness are, after all,
at higher risk for communicable diseases
, which would make rent cancellation a formidable tool in our national fight against COVID-19.

Whatever side you come down on politically, it can’t be ignored that we’re living in an unprecedented moment in American history. What better time could there be to rewrite some of the rules that have long governed our understanding of how we—quite literally—live by providing meaningful, direct assistance to tenants facing eviction?
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