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Eoin Higgins June 30, 2020 10:17AM (UTC)

This article originally appeared at Common Dreams. It is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely.

Comedian John Oliver on his HBO show Sunday night drew attention to a looming eviction crisis facing the U.

S. as federal, state, and local aid programs aimed at offsetting the economic disaster brought about by the coronavirus pandemic dry up. 

"Experts are predicting horrific outcomes," said Oliver. "If evictions continue as normal, this public health crisis could soon turn into a full-blown homelessness crisis."

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Government programs in the wake of the outbreak and economic shutdown that followed, including economic stimulus checks, unemployment bonuses, and evictions moratoriums, have for the most part kept homelessness around the country to a minimum. But those protections are expiring despite the continuing pandemic. 

As the Boston Globe reported Monday:

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A lack of affordable housing is [a] systemic problem in the US, with the majority of people spending more than half of their income on shelter costs alone, Oliver added, noting that about one million households have been evicted each year for over a decade, disproportionately impacting people of color, with Black women especially vulnerable. Oliver also noted that about one-third of US households are renters, and renters tend to have lower incomes than homeowners.

In a separate report Sunday, the Globe noted that the August 18 expiration of a Massachusetts law imposing a moratorium on evictions across the commonwealth was likely to lead to a "tsunami" of evictions.

"The situation is looking really dire," Lisa Owens, executive director of tenants' rights group City Life/Vida Urbana, told the Globe. "We are facing what could be dramatic levels of homelessness, and neighborhood and citywide instability."

Eviction hearings in states like Texas have resumed remotely, with judges using apps like Zoom to facilitate throwing people out of their homes. 

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Oliver in his show Sunday said that because evictions are coming as the disease surges around the U.S. and economic reopenings falter, the timing could not be worse to restart the process.

"We're about to go out of our way to throw people out of their homes at the worst possible time," said Oliver.


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Oxfam: Pandemic pushing millions to brink of starvation

LONDON (AP) — The coronavirus outbreak has worsened the hunger crisis in the world’s poorest corners and up to 12,000 people could die each day from hunger linked to the social and economic effects of the pandemic, the humanitarian group Oxfam warned Thursday.

Its report said mass unemployment, disruption to food production and declining aid as a result of the pandemic could push an estimated 122 million people to the brink of starvation this year.

“The knock-on impacts of COVID-19 are far more widespread than the virus itself, pushing millions of the world’s poorest people deeper into hunger and poverty,” said the group’s chief executive, Danny Sriskandarajah. “It is vital governments contain the spread of this deadly disease, but they must also prevent it killing as many — if not more — people from hunger.”

The charity said that in some of the world’s worst hunger “hot spots,” including Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria and South Sudan, the food crisis is worsening because of border and supply route closures or a huge drop in remittances as result of the pandemic. In middle-income countries like India, South Africa and Brazil, millions of people who had been “just about managing have been tipped over the edge.”

Even in developed countries like Britain, the report said, up to 3.7 million adults sought charity food or used a food bank during the first weeks of lockdown restrictions.

Oxfam cited the World Food Program in estimating that the number of people experiencing crisis-level hunger will rise to 270 million before the end of this year, a jump from 149 million in 2019.

It said that women, and women-headed households, are more likely to go hungry because they make up a large proportion of hard-hit groups such as informal workers and also have borne the brunt of an increase in unpaid care work as a result of school closures and family illness.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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