Barbara Lee
Rep. Barbara Lee (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images)

Democratic U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee of Oakland and Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia of Chicago have banded together to block landlords from evicting tenants in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

So far, at least 39 U.S. House lawmakers have signed on as co-sponsors to legislation introduced by Lee and Garcia that’s entitled: “The Rental Eviction Moratorium Act.” The measure will be part of a COVID-19 stimulus package to come.

“As more workers are losing their jobs or having their hours limited, families are put at risk of missing rent or forgoing food on the table,” Lee said in a statement. “We can’t allow people to be on the streets in the middle of a public health crisis – that’s why I worked with Rep. Garcia to introduce the Rental Eviction Moratorium Act. The important legislation ensures that renters in the Bay Area and the nation cannot be evicted from their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. We must ensure that everyone has access to quality housing no matter their financial situation.”

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“No one should lose their home during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Garcia said in a statement. “Families are hurting. They were worried about their jobs, health and child care and deserve the certainty they won’t be kicked to the curb and left homeless if they can’t make their rent.”

If passed, the measure would be in place for six months after the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) declares an official end to the national emergency declared by President Trump. The only cases in which a tenant would not be protected would be if he or she committed a “serious criminal act,” according to Garcia’s office.

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The bill was introduced in response to the announcement from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that it would suspend foreclosures and evictions until the end of April for the country’s 30 million homeowners with federally insured mortgages, Atlanta Black Star reported.