With help from Rishika Dugyala, Darius Tahir and Teresa Wiltz
What up Recast family! A shout out to Delece Smith-Barrow for holding down the Q&A last week. There’s a lot to get to in this edition: an assassination in Haiti; protests in Cuba; President Joe Biden’s remarks on voting rights; and Texas Democrats hightailing it out of the state to prevent a vote on the GOP-backed elections bill. With that, let’s jump in!
There is a looming eviction crisis on the verge of wreaking havoc on the nation, with housing and anti-poverty advocates warning it could drive many into homelessness.
As with many adverse effects of the pandemic, the advocates say, the impact of this crisis could be felt disproportionately by Black people and Latinos.
The federal government’s moratorium on evictions is set to expire July 31. This could complicate an already tight housing market that’s spurring soaring housing prices and rents and threatening economic recovery.
At the start of the pandemic, then-President Donald Trump signed the CARES Act, which, among other things, paused evictions for renters in certain properties. The federal eviction moratorium has been extended several times.
But now it seems there will be no more reprieves for the nation’s roughly 8 million households behind on their rent and mortgage payments. According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, more than 4 million of those households face the likelihood of eviction in the next two months.
This prompted the Biden White House to hold a summit, encouraging cities and municipalities to develop eviction prevention plans — and take advantage of the $46 billion in emergency funds the federal government set aside to keep people in their homes.
“Renters at risk of eviction are desperate for that relief,” Susan Rice, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, said at the event. “And landlords need to cover their bills.”
“With Black and Latino households at higher risk of eviction before the pandemic, our response as we emerge from Covid must be rooted in equity in a way that reduces disparities instead of compounding them,” Rice added.
This creates a complicated puzzle for policymakers: Black and Latino renters are hit hardest by the pandemic. But Black and Latino landlords are also disproportionately impacted. Like their tenants, they’re more likely to have lower incomes. They also own fewer properties than their white counterparts and are more likely to carry a mortgage on their rental properties than to own them outright, according to a joint survey by the Urban Institute and Avail in September. That means tenants who can’t pay push these landlords into crisis mode.
A study from University of California Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation and the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals surveyed NAHREP’s membership last July. It found 52 percent of landlords reported at least one tenant not paying rent the previous month and a quarter of the landlords had to borrow funds to cover operating costs.
This illustrates the challenges for Black and brown so-called mom-and-pop landlords. These property owners are being hit on both ends — missing out on forbearance relief and not receiving rental payments from tenants.
We’ll keep watching to see what kind of effect this lifting of evictions will have on the housing industry, which, if it plays out as experts think it will, may further expand the wealth gap between white Americans and their Black and Latino counterparts.
All the best,
The Recast Team
Power dynamics are changing. With The Recast, you’ll get a twice-weekly breakdown of how race and identity are the DNA of American politics and policy. Stay tuned for fresh analysis, scoops and new voices.
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For more analysis of the end of the eviction moratorium, we turn to two housing experts to get a sense of what they’re seeing and just how deeply Black and Latino landlords are hit by the pandemic.
Noerena Limón is the executive vice president of public policy and industry relations for the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals. She previously served in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau during the Obama administration. Also joining the conversation is Lisa Rice, who serves as president and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
THE RECAST: In some jurisdictions, courts have allowed evictions to proceed. The CDC’s temporary halt on evictions is set to lift on July 31. What do you anticipate will happen nationally once the eviction moratorium lifts?
RICE: So at the end of the month, what will happen is the national moratorium will go out of existence. Now, what we don’t know is whether or not state and local governments are going to implement their own eviction moratorium or extend the ones that are currently in place.
And here’s why things are so up in the air: The federal government alloted rental housing payment subsidies for people who are renting houses.
States and municipalities are having a difficult time standing up and implementing programs to disseminate the funds to consumers.
And in some cases where states or local municipalities have stood up programs … we are hearing stories, unfortunately, of landlords who are not accepting the payment.
LIMÓN: [The government] obviously needs to do more marketing of the programs that are available. A lot of times, when it’s a small Latino landlord or a Black landlord, they tend to have Black or Latino tenants, as well. And [those tenants] a lot of times tend to be of the more vulnerable population.
I have seen anecdotally, there’s been a lot of forgiveness that’s happened informally [by these landlords on] rent. But I’m worried about these small landlords. I’m worried about them tapping into their life savings [to cover operating costs]. What’s going to happen to them?
THE RECAST: How do you think this looming crisis impacts the Black-white and the Latino-white wealth gap? Are you concerned these gaps in wealth may grow?
RICE: Oh, definitely. There’s nothing in place to stop the wealth gap from growing.
There’s a lot of fingers crossed that the stars align and people are able to get access to these relief programs.
LIMÓN: We did a survey of our members of 743 [real estate] agents for the state of Hispanic homeownership report this year. And among those that are landlords, 40.1 percent of them report that they feel unconfident about how to even apply for the emergency rental assistance program.
We found out that a lot of them were scared to get forbearance, for example, because that means that they’re going to be less likely to be able to purchase other investment properties or because it was a property that they own the property free and clear, they still need to pay property taxes.
If this is really where these individuals are, we’re worried about bridging the racial and ethnic wealth gap, then these individuals are going to be selling these homes. That’s wealth that is going to leave the hands of communities of color that they slowly built up after the Great Recession.
CHAOS IN HAITI
It’s been a week since Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was murdered. A prominent Florida-based doctor, Christian Emmanuel Sanon, has emerged as a central figure in the investigation into the assassination plot.
Sanon, 63, has been reported to have aspirations to become the leader of Haiti, but Haitian law enforcement officials have not outlined just how he planned to take over the presidency, The New York Times reports.
The alleged coup attempt has led Haitian officials to arrest at least 18 Colombians and two Haitian Americans, according to the Miami Herald.
President Biden denounced the attack on his Haitian counterpart and wished Moïse’s widow, who was hospitalized after the attack, a full recovery.
Over the weekend, the United States sent an interagency delegation, including personnel from the Justice Department and the National Security Council, to provide the Haitian government with security and to assist with the investigation, according to a statement from the Biden administration.
OPIOIDS AND BLACK AMERICA
The CDC estimates the opioid epidemic has claimed roughly half a million lives dating back to 1999. While the nation has used some blunt tools to stem the tide of opioid abuse, there’s a recent survey that suggests those efforts have adversely impacted Black Americans who could benefit from opioids to treat a red blood cell disorder. POLITICO’s Darius Tahir sent this dispatch:
The policies have been in some senses successful, says Yuhua Bao, a Cornell Medical College health economist: Per capita opioid prescriptions peaked in 2012 and have declined since then.
But there’s fresh evidence of unintended consequences, especially affecting vulnerable Black Americans with sickle cell disease, she adds.
The roots of the problem lie in a software tool called prescription drug monitoring programs. The databases, which date back to the 1930s, track prescriptions of controlled substances. In theory, they allow doctors, pharmacists and police officers to address harmful patterns of opioid prescriptions.
State officials have increasingly mandated their use before physicians prescribe opioids. That’s where Bao’s new study comes in: After states imposed mandates, prescriptions of opioids to patients to treat sickle cell disease dropped by nearly 16 percent in some jurisdictions. That seems to be a problem: Sickle cell, a disease that disproportionately affects Black Americans, is a painful, debilitating disease for which opioids would often be warranted.
It’s a problem with a long history: Patients of color have long been prescribed fewer opioids than white patients.
Bao isn’t yet sure what the causes of the big drop are.
It could be bias on the part of doctors; it could be under-resourced hospitals and pharmacies disproportionately serving people of color. At any rate, the results suggest merely providing information isn’t a panacea.
“It’s both structural and interpersonal,” Bao says.
ICYMI AT POLITICO
President Biden is set to take aim at Republican-led state legislatures passing new voting measures. POLITICO’S Laura Barrón-López, citing an administration official, reports Biden is expected to frame these laws as “the most significant threat today to the integrity of our elections, and to the security of the right to vote for people of all races and backgrounds.”
Biden’s remarks come a day after Texas Democrats bolted from the Lone Star State as a special legislative session was set to start. It’s the latest maneuver to block Republicans in Austin from passing new election laws. POLITICO’s Zach Montellaro and Renuka Rayasam report the GOP majority could dispatch state law enforcement officials to wrangle the missing lawmakers.
The Biden administration’s policy toward Cuba was opaque before this weekend’s national protests in the communist country. But then thousands of Cubans took to the streets chanting “Libertad!” (“Freedom!”) to protest repression and decry food and medicine shortages. So the U.S. president was forced to take a clearer stance on the island nation, reports POLITICO’s Sabrina Rodriguez and Nahal Toosi.
Read this can’t-miss deep dive from Hank Stephenson about the fight in Arizona over so-called “Raza Studies.” Before the courses were banned in 2010, students learned about Mexican American contributions to history and culture. The reasons for nixing the program have eerily similar echoes of culture war battles being waged today over critical race theory.
THE RECAST RECOMMENDS
POLITICO Live event alert: Join reporter Ryan Heath today at 3 p.m. EDT for a conversation with Anita DeFrantz, first vice president of the International Olympic Committee. They’re discussing what’s at stake in the Tokyo Olympics as a global health crisis, sports and politics all come to a head. Register here to watch live.
Tennis star Naomi Osaka pens a personal essay in Time where she opens up about her mental health and why she withdrew from the Wimbledon Grand Slam tournament last month. “Perhaps we should give athletes the right to take a mental break from media scrutiny on a rare occasion without being subject to strict sanctions,” she writes.
Time to take shots at Men’s USA Basketball since they can’t make any? The Olympic squad has lost consecutive tune-up matches, first to Nigeria and last night to Australia. ESPN has more on the team’s chemistry woes.
The Purple One’s famous kicks are on display at Paisley Park. More than 300 pairs of Prince’s footwear from platforms to tennis shoes will be on display in The Beautiful Collection: Prince’s Custom Shoes, Rolling Stone reports.
Read Nana Nkweti’s “Walking on Cowrie Shells,” a collection of stories about Cameroonian life — both at home and abroad. And while you’re at it, check out Katie Kitamura’s “Intimacies,” a novel about an interpreter working at the Hague’s International Criminal Court, where she translates for a former president charged with war crimes.
A new documentary, “WITCH,” directed by Gio Arlotta, unpacks the legacy of a ’70s era Zambian psychedelic rock group of the same name. (The name is an acronym for “We Intend To Cause Havoc.”) Back in the day, they were “the Beatles of Zambia.” Today, its lone surviving member is working in a gem mine, trying to eke out a living.
K-pop supergroup BTS crashed the American music scene with their megahit “Dynamite” in 2020. Despite this, the group gets very little airplay. Vox asks the burning question: Why won’t American radio play more K-pop?
TikTok of the Day: This punchline … hurts.
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