Robert Davis, a bartender at the Atlanta airport, said he almost always paid his rent on time prior to August 1, but that didn’t stop his landlord from sending him an eviction notice.
The 51-year-old single dad who was furloughed in March wrote a letter to his apartment building’s owners explaining his difficult situation and hoping for some mercy. He explained that his last $600 weekly unemployment check, a lifeline for many Americans under the CARES Act, had been delayed and he wasn’t sure if or when he’d receive another.
Davis is just one of the millions of laid-off or furloughed people who may be homeless this fall unless the federal eviction moratorium is extended.
This week, Davis and other hospitality workers are setting up food giveaways for fellow workers in need right in front of the offices of key US senators who have opposed extending unemployment benefits.
The events were planned and paid for by several labor unions in support of members of UNITE HERE, a hospitality workers union that represents about 300,000 airport, restaurant, hotel, and casino employees in the US and Canada.
Organizers are targeting Republican senators including Kelly Loeffler, John Cornyn, and Martha McSally who have opposed the HEROES Act.
The proposed bill would extend the CARES Act’s stimulus measures that were introduced in the spring, including the moratorium on evictions. Each of those opposing senators is up for re-election in November.
In Atlanta, Davis will join dozens of airport workers in setting up a soup kitchen outside the office of Kelly Loeffler, the junior Republican senator from Georgia. The same demonstrations are scheduled in Denver, Phoenix, Houston, Charlotte, and Austin.
In a CNN report, Davis said he received a letter back from his building’s owners, Braden Fellman Group LTD, who informed him that he had one day to pay his rent in full along with a late fee before the company moved forward with evicting him.
“I’m still arguing with them about a payment arrangement,” Davis told CNN. “They really are going to have to come around and do a reality check with what’s going on in our society.”
On Monday, Braden Fellman’s co-owner, Andrew Braden responded to this and told CNN that the letter Davis received was just an automated warning sent to renters who haven’t paid rent within a four-day grace period. Braden agreed to speak with Davis over the phone to clear up the matter.
“If they’re in communications with their management team, then they’ll be taken care of,” Baden told CNN Business. “We’re going above and beyond to make sure we’re not putting our residents out on the street.”
UNITE HERE President D. Taylor and others have pointed out that Congress approved at least $23 billion in coronavirus relief grants to major airlines and about $500 billion in corporate loans via the CARES Act in March.
“I find it the height of hypocrisy that these same senators are willing to give billions to companies, but a poor worker getting $600 is too much,” Taylor said.
Taylor says 98% of his union’s members were laid off or furloughed back in March when coronavirus-related government mandates grounded thousands of flights and crippled the US travel industry.
At least 80% of his members, most of whom are people of color, are still out of work.Most of them will not receive CARES Act payments this week if Congress declines to extend those payments in full via the HEROES Act.The majority of them have relied on the $600 weekly unemployment checks they received through the CARES Act for income.