An estimated 40 million are in danger of being evicted due to the coronavirus economic downturn. But people across the country are pitching in to help.
“We have nowhere to go,” Israel Rodriguez Sr. said as Houston police issued him an eviction notice.
Rodriguez, a father of a 20-month-old son, also named Israel, is one of an estimated 30 to 40 million Americans that are being evicted due to the economic downturn that resulted from the coronavirus pandemic. CNN featured Rodriguez’s story on a Sept. 2 segment, which went viral over the weekend and was shared by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
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“Mass evictions could be prevented if Congress prioritized struggling people 1/2 as much as it prioritizes Wall St. bailouts,” Rep. Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.
Across the country, in upstate New York, a math teacher named Patrick Tarnowski was so touched by Rodriguez’s unfortunate situation that he decided to launch a GoFundme fundraiser. In just a couple of days, the online effort has raised more than $67,000.
“I just want to thank everyone that reached out to me,” the 24-year-old Rodriguez said holding back tears during a press conference on Sept. 4. “I am not the only one struggling, but for people to reach out to me, it’s the best thing that could happen to me.”
Rodriguez also thanked Precinct One in Harris County, Texas for their support, along with Tarnowski. He said the money would help him get back on his feet and assist his mother. “It’s unbelievable how people have such a great heart,” Rodriguez added.
Constable Alan Rosen of Precinct One joined Rodriguez in the press conference, saying he cared deeply for the young man. He also issued a statement saying that they are working on fundraising for other families facing evictions.
“We care. We are compassionate. We are abiding by the guidelines,” Rosen said. “It breaks our hearts to evict people. We hope the generosity demonstrated following this single-story will begin a movement where we work together as a society that starts a discussion about poverty, prioritizes kindness, and encourages philanthropy.”
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Addressing the new policy by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which temporarily halts the eviction of people who fall under the CDC guidelines, Rosen said people who qualified for the eviction protection would be able to remain in their homes.
In her Twitter thread Rep. Ocasio-Cortez added that the Senate has yet to pass the HEROES Act, which would protect people such as Rodriguez, who have been laid off due to the COVID-19.
“The HEROES Act the House passed months ago covers several (but not all) of these points,” AOC tweeted. “GOP Senators, pledging allegiance to Mitch McConnell, have intentionally sat on this bill & did nothing. People are starving. Babies are sleeping on car floors. Where is the needed urgency?”