Basically, the Supreme Court just said it’s not up to the CDC to declare an eviction moratorium, even though it’s essential during the pandemic. It’s Congress’ job. I don’t see this going anywhere. The unsigned opinion of the court called out Congress for its inaction on extending the moratorium.
If we did everything this way, fire departments couldn’t put fires out until legislators passed enabling acts to fight each specific fire.
If only members of Congress didn’t spend all their time courting donors and lobbyists. Then we’d have a government. That would be novel. We could all pretend to be Danish.
Somehow I’m on email lists of a whole slew of politicians trying to get me to send them money, and I don’t know what states half of them are running in. One guy running for some office or other in South or North Wherever must have a team writing emails for him, because if he personally wrote all that I get from him, he’d have no time left to eat.
It’s probably my own fault. I joined a political party once. It turns out they keep records of that. One time five years ago, I had $35 lying around, and I carelessly handed it over to this political party, and now it comes back to my doorstep every day to beg for more. Of course, they also shared my name and address with all the other strays.
The reason the Supreme Court’s decision on the eviction moratorium was unsigned is the same reason oral arguments weren’t allowed before the Court prior to the decision: The Court regarded the case as needing to be expedited because of the urgency of the matter. In other words, they can move on something fast when it’s urgent enough to them.
I’m going to guess that if Biden and Congress don’t act to extend the eviction moratorium by the end of September, come November, the U.S. will end up with twice as many homeless people as it already has.
There is a way Biden could extend the eviction moratorium. He could borrow the trick Abe Lincoln used to extend his suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War. He could just do it. Because, “urgency.”
I really have no hope that Congress will get up and pass an extension. They’ve had months to do it and couldn’t be bothered. Nobody they know needs to be protected from eviction. Nobody they know is going to become homeless.
Years ago, there was a story about surveys done in multiple cities that indicated Washington, D.C., had more than twice the number of panhandlers as most other U.S. cities studied. It sounded believable to me. I figured it was simply due to the example Congress has always set.
Another thing I’ve learned not to hope for: No matter how many new homeless people fill up our streets and no matter how many of them are people who are just there because of the same economic problems everyone else is suffering from, stereotypes about homelessness and its causes will not die.
I expect half the new homeless people will spend several months living out of cars and vans, because they’ll have them. I wish them good luck keeping their vehicles running and away from tow trucks.
With all the advances in AI and self-driving cars, I think it’s time for car makers to come up with a car that will evade being towed. The car should keep a lookout for tow trucks. When one appears, it starts up, pulls out of its parking space and uses GPS to find its driver. It texts the driver for help, telling them where it is. The driver comes, gets in the car and shouts, “Hi Ho, Silver, away!” This would also be an excellent way to deal with parking enforcement.
The problem with this sort of thinking is that if you are rich enough to have a car that smart, you probably own your own home and you have a two- or three-car heated garage, with an adjoining rec room and sauna, and you could pay towing charges and fees and parking tickets from your loose change — all those nickels and dimes you never spent because you carry plastic and use phone apps.
The Supreme Court will, naturally, defend your interests.
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time math professor who has experienced homelessness several times. He supplied the art for the first cover of Real Change in November of 1994 and has been involved with the organization ever since. This is his weekly column, Adventures in Irony, a dry verbal romp of the absurd. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more of the Sept. 1-7, 2021 issue.