The month of March marks a year of the United States lockdowns and restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite a new president and administration, U.S. citizens have seen very few solutions in terms of financial support to aid rent and bill payments.
Reported by the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, as of May 2020 more than 20 million U.S. citizens had lost their jobs due to the pandemic. This wave of job loss brought the unemployment rate to 14.7% in April 2020. Rates have never reached this high since the Great Depression.
In the past year, the government has issued two stimulus packages — one for $1200 per person in April, and a second for $600 per person in December — claiming they were to help families pay for rent, bills and food during lockdown restrictions.
However, in 2019, Business Insider reported the average rent per month for a family of four in the U.S. ranges from $600 to $1,500, not taking utilities into account.
Both of these stimulus packages went into effect only after lengthy debates in both the House of Representatives and Senate and did little to help. A year later, sadly, nothing has really changed.
The House passed President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief package March 10 after striping away key elements. Now, in the Senate, the package is undergoing more changes in order to be passed. These changes include who will be eligible for the third stimulus check.
This long, drawn-out debate is unacceptable. Conflict over whether or not people deserve to afford to live in the middle of a pandemic should not be so divided. This topic should not be a debate at all.
The polarization and politicization of people’s right to lead a happy, comfortable life is not new.
This conversation has unfortunately been a key point in politics for decades, and the pandemic has simply made it more apparent.
This nation has seen this party polarization happen over and over again in the past five years, from LGBTQ+ rights bills to the decision to go into a lockdown. We are now seeing the familiar conflict yet again with the stimulus bill.