BEYOND THE NUMBERS
“Tracking Hardship”: CBPP’s New Tool to Highlight Recession’s Human Impact
Nearly 15 million adult renters (1 in 5) were behind in their rent at some point this summer, and up to 17 million children were in households that said the children weren’t eating enough because the household couldn’t afford it, according to “Tracking Hardship,” our new tool to document the recession’s growing human impact.
The tracker, which we’ll regularly update, shows that while hardship is widespread, households of color are experiencing disproportionate levels of hardship, reflecting longstanding inequities that the crisis is worsening. The tracker provides state-by-state figures on how many people are behind on rent, how many are having trouble getting enough to eat, how much SNAP caseloads have risen, and how many people are out of work.
The President’s recent executive actions, which are legally suspect to begin with, not only fell dramatically short of what’s needed in the areas they covered, but they ignored critical areas. His actions to extend jobless benefits and defer Social Security payroll taxes won’t work or will do far too little and, despite his claims, his actions did nothing to extend the federal moratorium on evictions or provide more rental assistance. Meanwhile, he provided no new funds for testing, contact tracing, or other measures to fight the spread of COVID-19; no new funds for states and localities, which face huge budget crises and are laying off teachers and health care workers and cutting vital services; and no new funds for schools, which face big new costs to make their facilities safe for when they can open and to provide effective online learning while they remain closed.
Rising hardship makes it increasingly important that White House officials work with Congress to craft an economic relief package that both addresses the hardship and helps stimulate the economy. Such a package should include funds for testing, contract tracing, and other critical measures to fight COVID-19; food assistance for millions who aren’t getting enough to eat; adequate levels of unemployment benefits and additional weeks of benefits; an extended eviction ban and rental assistance to help households at risk of eviction and homelessness pay the rent; funds to help schools open safely at the appropriate time and to operate effectively until then; and fiscal relief for states and localities, including additional Medicaid funding, to avoid more layoffs and cuts in critical state services that will hurt households and be a drag on the economy.