‘How Am I Going To Make It?’ Months of Eviction Uncertainty Are Taking a Toll on Millions of Families

The evictions crisis is a mental health crisis, too

‘How Am I Going To Make It?’ Months of Eviction Uncertainty Are Taking a Toll on Millions of Families

Nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic, Marlenis Zambrano is out of money. A 48-year-old single mother in Virginia, she tried her best to get by after being furloughed from her Defense Department daycare job in March by selling homemade face masks and empanadas to help support her two dependent children, both in college. She twice applied for housing relief from Arlington County, but was denied because, at the time, she had $5,000 in savings intended for her daughter’s tuition.

With that money long gone, Zambrano is living off her credit card, racking up $5,000 in charges to pay for her Arlington, Virginia apartment. If she stops paying rent, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s evictions moratorium, enacted earlier this month, should help keep her and her family housed at least until 2021. But with debt piling up and no further financial relief in sight, she feels the CDC rule has merely delayed the inevitable.

“You close one hole, but you open many,” says Zambrano, of trying to keep up with her bills. “We don’t know how we’re going to get out of this situation if I don’t get back to work.”

Under the CDC moratorium, which superseded a patchwork of state eviction orders, families like the Zambranos can submit a pandemic hardship declaration to their landlords, which can block eviction for nonpayment of rent until the end of the year. The rule has postponed the imminent threat of eviction for up to 40 million Americans at risk of homelessness. However, true rent relief, as well as extended federal unemployment benefits and other forms of direct stimulus, remain stalled in Congress. Faced with a severe affordable housing shortage and a prolonged economic downturn amid a seemingly endless public health nightmare, struggling Americans are feeling the effects beyond their bank accounts, as months of uncertainty are wearing down people’s resolve and potentially exacerbating the country’s pandemic-era mental health crisis.

“It’s really stressful,” says Zambrano. “I try my best to be positive, but it’s hard to maintain it because at some point you think, ‘How am I going to make it?’”

Months of such uncertainty can have real consequences. In order to keep a roof over their heads, families may compromise on food, energy and health care bills, experts say. “These things not only take a physical toll, but they take a mental health toll,” says Dr. Megan Sandel, an associate professor of pediatrics at the Boston University School of Medicine.

In a 2018 study published in the journal Pediatrics surveying more than 22,000 U.S. families, Sandel and other researchers found that those who had recently been behind on rent faced quadruple rates of food insecurity, twice the rate of maternal depression, and higher rates of child hospitalizations and developmental delays compared to those with stable housing. During the current recession and unemployment crisis, researchers think two or three times as many people may be feeling those effects. Indeed, recent studies have found that three times as many Americans are experiencing depression during the COVID-19 pandemic than beforehand.

“It’s no longer just a low-income family problem,” says Sandel. “This is something that is hitting more and more middle-income families.” And like so many other effects of the coronavirus pandemic, housing insecurity disproportionately affects households of color, with Black and Hispanic households reporting far higher rates of missed rent payments compared to white households, according to early June reports from the U.S. Census Bureau.

These conditions can have long-term consequences for young children especially. Developmental delays caused by persistent childhood stresses can have enormous effects along the course of a person’s life, reducing their likelihood to graduate high school or their lifetime earning potential. “This is a critical window of time,” Sandel says. “Being able to have that stable, decent, affordable home that allows kids to reach their potential is a public health emergency.”

Experts say the CDC eviction moratorium is only a temporary relief for families. It’s an unfunded program, meaning renters will still be expected to make up for their missed payments eventually. “This pushes the problem down the road,” says Peter Hepburn, an analyst at Princeton University’s Eviction Lab. “What needs to happen now is that Congress needs to step in to provide some sort of emergency rental assistance.”

Until it does, struggling families are likely to fall farther behind as back rent piles up. As of Sept. 13, nearly 14% of U.S. households failed to make that month’s rent payment—more than a quarter million more than had not paid as of the same date last year, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council. Furthermore, while the CDC moratorium prohibits evictions due to nonpayment of rent, it still allows evictions for other lease infringements. That means at least some landlords are likely to claim other non-rent related violations, which in some lease agreements could be as minor as watching television too loudly, in order to kick renters out.

While four months without the threat of eviction is welcome for many on the edge, months of congressional deadlock have left families in a seemingly perpetual limbo. “The tracks are being laid right in front of the train,” says John Gainey, a staff attorney at the Atlanta Legal Aid Society. “The uncertainty puts a real strain on tenants.”

One of Gainey’s clients, Monique Jackson, is at least grateful for the bit of breathing room the CDC rule provides. She and her husband Shan fell more than $5,000 behind on rent for their one-story Jonesboro, Georgia ranch house after Shan lost his trucking job in March. Recently, Monique has been juggling her 13-year-old daughter’s remote learning schedule with calls to bill collectors, bargaining for an extra week here, an extra month there, trying to keep the lights on and prevent the furniture from getting carted out the door.

“It’s a little relief that you’re knowing that you have a while before you have to be out, but it’s still going to be a big thing once January comes and you don’t have the money,” says Monique of the CDC moratorium. “It’s just really buying a little bit of time. That’s it.”

The Jacksons worked for years to afford rent on a home they are now likely to lose once the moratorium expires. Shan, now 48, spent a decade working nearly 80-hour weeks in a Savannah sandwich shop. Before that, he spent three years handling 10-pound pork shoulders at a Tyson slaughterhouse in Iowa. Yet for years, the Jacksons could hardly afford decent housing, living in a state where rising living costs and weak affordable housing infrastructure have stacked the odds against low-income residents. In Atlanta, average rents have climbed 65% since 2010, while in Jonesboro, the suburb where the Jacksons live, rents shot up more than 25% in just the past three years. In Savannah, where average rents have increased more than 40% since 2005, Shan, Monique, their daughter Shania, and Monique’s grandson once lived together in a single hotel room.

Now, the prospect of losing their single-family home and all the progress it represents weighs on the Jacksons—though there is some hope. Shan is back to work at a new trucking job, and the family is expecting a check for unemployment benefits backpay that could pull them out of debt.

“We’re just trusting in God that he knows the situation, he knows what we’re going through,” says Monique. “I believe he’s not going to let us be out there [homeless] like that.”

While the CDC moratorium may temporarily keep millions of families in their homes, it’s unclear when, or even if, further assistance will arrive. House Democrats’ $3 trillion HEROES Act, stalled in Congress since May, allocated $100 billion for emergency rental assistance for those at risk of homelessness. A Republican counterproposal included just $3.3 billion for families already receiving federal housing assistance—an amount the National Low Income Housing Coalition called “a drop in an ocean of need.” Some housing experts have proposed federal loan programs, which could help tenants make rent while also keeping landlords solvent as they contend with mortgages or other financial pressures of their own, potentially helping to stabilize the wider economy in the process.

While some are pushing for short-term emergency relief, such measures won’t address what some say is a deeper issue that precipitated today’s crisis: a national shortage of affordable housing for low-income households. For families judged to be “extremely low income”—those at or beneath the poverty line or who earn 30% of their area’s median income—experts say the U.S. is short 7 million units nationwide. Advocates have proposed expanding national Housing Trust Fund state block grants for low-income housing and rental assistance programs like the Housing Choice Voucher program, as well as providing tax credits for rent-burdened families and reforming developers’ subsidies to incentivize building housing for the poorest renters.

“[Local governments] don’t really have the resources to deal with the magnitude of the problem,” says Mel Jones, a research scientist at the Virginia Center for Housing Research. “The problem was so big before COVID, and now it’s that much bigger.”

In absence of substantial help, there’s little for families like the Zombranos and the Jacksons to do but care for their families and hope for the best. “All I can do is go to work and try to make money so I can keep my bills paid the best way I know how,” says Shan Jackson. “That’s all I know how to do.”

Source : Time More   

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Decade-Long Feeding Study Reveals Significant Health Hazards of Genetically Engineered Foods

By Dr. Mercola Scientists in Norway have released results from experimental feeding studies carried out over a 10-year period, and the verdict is in: If you want to avoid obesity, then avoid eating genetically engineered (GE) corn, corn-based products, and animals that are fed a diet of GE grain. As reported by Cornucopia.org1, the project also looked at the effects on organ changes, and researchers found significant changes that affected weight gain, eating behaviors, and immune function. How Genetically Engineered Corn and Soy Can Wreak Havoc on Your Health According to the featured article2: "The results show a positive link between GE corn and obesity. Animals fed a GE corn diet got fatter quicker and retained the weight compared to animals fed a non-GE grain diet. The studies were performed on rats, mice, pigs and salmon, achieving the same results. ... Researchers found distinct changes to the intestines of animals fed GMOs compared to those fed non-GMOs. This confirms other studies done by US researchers. Significant changes occurred in the digestive systems of the test animals' major organs including the liver, kidneys, pancreas, genitals and more." Their findings (which were published July 11, 2012 in Norway by Forskning.no, an online news source devoted to Norwegian and international research3) showed that animals fed genetically engineered Bt corn ate more, got fatter, and were less able to digest proteins due to alterations in the micro-structure of their intestines. They also suffered immune system alterations. The impaired ability to digest proteins may be of particular concern as this can have far-reaching implications for your health. If your body cannot digest proteins, your body will be less able to produce amino acids, which are necessary building blocks for proper cell growth and function. As noted by Cornucopia.org: "This not only may relate to a rise in obesity, but to increases in many modern diseases. These diseases include diabetes, digestive disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, colitis, autism spectrum disorders (ASD) (ADD), autoimmune diseases, sexual dysfunction, sterility, asthma, COPD and many more. ...[Lead author] Professor Krogdahl explains: "It has often been claimed that the new genes in genetically modified foods can't do any damage because all genes are broken down beyond recognition in the gut. Our results show the contrary; that genes can be taken up across the intestinal wall, is transferred to the blood and is left in the blood, muscle and liver in large chunks so that they can be easily recognized... The biological impact of this gene transfer is unknown." Bt Toxin Found in Blood of Women and Fetuses This is not the first time scientists have revealed significant biological impacts and related health problems as a result of eating a diet of genetically engineered foods. More often than not, unless the research is tainted by industry ties, studies into the effects of genetically engineered foods demonstrate that it is anything but safe. This isn't so surprising when you consider that simple logic will tell you it's probably not wise to consume a plant designed to produce its own pesticide, for example. So-called "Bt corn" is equipped with a gene from the soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which produces Bt-toxin—a pesticide that breaks open the stomach of certain insects and kills them. This pesticide-producing corn entered the food supply in the late 1990's, and over the past decade, the horror stories have started piling up. Monsanto and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) swore that the toxin would only affect insects munching on the crop. The Bt-toxin, they claimed, would be completely destroyed in the human digestive system and would not have any impact on animals and humans. The biotech companies have doggedly insisted that Bt-toxin doesn't bind or interact with the intestinal walls of mammals, and therefore humans. The featured research proves all such claims false. Prior findings have already shown that Bt corn is anything but innocuous to the human system. Just last year, doctors at Sherbrooke University Hospital in Quebec found Bt-toxin in the blood4 of: 93 percent of pregnant women tested 80 percent of umbilical blood in their babies, and 67 percent of non-pregnant women Bt-toxin breaks open the stomach of insects. Could it similarly be damaging the integrity of your digestive tract? If Bt-toxins can damage the intestinal walls of newborns and young children, the passage of undigested foods and toxins into the blood from the digestive tract could be devastating to their future health. Scientists speculate that it may lead to autoimmune diseases and food allergies. Furthermore, since the blood-brain barrier is not developed in newborns, toxins may enter the brain causing serious cognitive problems. Some healthcare practitioners and scientists are convinced that this one mechanism for

Decade-Long Feeding Study Reveals Significant Health Hazards of Genetically Engineered Foods

By Dr. Mercola

Scientists in Norway have released results from experimental feeding studies carried out over a 10-year period, and the verdict is in: If you want to avoid obesity, then avoid eating genetically engineered (GE) corn, corn-based products, and animals that are fed a diet of GE grain.

As reported by Cornucopia.org1, the project also looked at the effects on organ changes, and researchers found significant changes that affected weight gain, eating behaviors, and immune function.

How Genetically Engineered Corn and Soy Can Wreak Havoc on Your Health

According to the featured article2:

"The results show a positive link between GE corn and obesity. Animals fed a GE corn diet got fatter quicker and retained the weight compared to animals fed a non-GE grain diet. The studies were performed on rats, mice, pigs and salmon, achieving the same results.

... Researchers found distinct changes to the intestines of animals fed GMOs compared to those fed non-GMOs. This confirms other studies done by US researchers. Significant changes occurred in the digestive systems of the test animals' major organs including the liver, kidneys, pancreas, genitals and more."

Their findings (which were published July 11, 2012 in Norway by Forskning.no, an online news source devoted to Norwegian and international research3) showed that animals fed genetically engineered Bt corn ate more, got fatter, and were less able to digest proteins due to alterations in the micro-structure of their intestines.

They also suffered immune system alterations. The impaired ability to digest proteins may be of particular concern as this can have far-reaching implications for your health. If your body cannot digest proteins, your body will be less able to produce amino acids, which are necessary building blocks for proper cell growth and function.

As noted by Cornucopia.org:

"This not only may relate to a rise in obesity, but to increases in many modern diseases. These diseases include diabetes, digestive disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, colitis, autism spectrum disorders (ASD) (ADD), autoimmune diseases, sexual dysfunction, sterility, asthma, COPD and many more.

...[Lead author] Professor Krogdahl explains: "It has often been claimed that the new genes in genetically modified foods can't do any damage because all genes are broken down beyond recognition in the gut. Our results show the contrary; that genes can be taken up across the intestinal wall, is transferred to the blood and is left in the blood, muscle and liver in large chunks so that they can be easily recognized... The biological impact of this gene transfer is unknown."

Bt Toxin Found in Blood of Women and Fetuses

This is not the first time scientists have revealed significant biological impacts and related health problems as a result of eating a diet of genetically engineered foods. More often than not, unless the research is tainted by industry ties, studies into the effects of genetically engineered foods demonstrate that it is anything but safe. This isn't so surprising when you consider that simple logic will tell you it's probably not wise to consume a plant designed to produce its own pesticide, for example.

So-called "Bt corn" is equipped with a gene from the soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which produces Bt-toxin—a pesticide that breaks open the stomach of certain insects and kills them. This pesticide-producing corn entered the food supply in the late 1990's, and over the past decade, the horror stories have started piling up.

Monsanto and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) swore that the toxin would only affect insects munching on the crop. The Bt-toxin, they claimed, would be completely destroyed in the human digestive system and would not have any impact on animals and humans. The biotech companies have doggedly insisted that Bt-toxin doesn't bind or interact with the intestinal walls of mammals, and therefore humans.

The featured research proves all such claims false.

Prior findings have already shown that Bt corn is anything but innocuous to the human system. Just last year, doctors at Sherbrooke University Hospital in Quebec found Bt-toxin in the blood4 of:

  • 93 percent of pregnant women tested
  • 80 percent of umbilical blood in their babies, and
  • 67 percent of non-pregnant women

Bt-toxin breaks open the stomach of insects. Could it similarly be damaging the integrity of your digestive tract? If Bt-toxins can damage the intestinal walls of newborns and young children, the passage of undigested foods and toxins into the blood from the digestive tract could be devastating to their future health. Scientists speculate that it may lead to autoimmune diseases and food allergies. Furthermore, since the blood-brain barrier is not developed in newborns, toxins may enter the brain causing serious cognitive problems. Some healthcare practitioners and scientists are convinced that this one mechanism for autism.

If Bt genes are colonizing the bacteria living in the digestive tract of North Americans, we might expect to see an increase in gastrointestinal problems, autoimmune diseases, food allergies, and childhood learning disorders since the advent of Bt crops in 1996, and that's exactly what's being reported. For example, between 1997 and 2002 the number of hospitalizations related to allergic reactions to food increased by a whopping 265 percent. One out of 17 children now has some form of food allergy and allergy rates are rising.

Genetically Engineered Foods Trigger Adverse Immune System Responses

There's plenty of evidence showing that the Bt-toxin produced in genetically modified Bt crops like corn and cotton plants is toxic to humans and mammals andtriggers immune system responses. For example, in government-sponsored research in Italy5, mice fed Monsanto's Bt corn showed a wide range of immune responses, such as:

  • Elevated IgE and IgG antibodies, which are typically associated with allergies and infections
  • An increase in cytokines, which are associated with allergic and inflammatory responses. The specific cytokines (interleukins) that were found to be elevated are also higher in humans who suffer from a wide range of disorders, from arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, to MS and cancer
  • Elevated T cells (gamma delta), which are increased in people with asthma, and in children with food allergies, juvenile arthritis, and connective tissue diseases.

Rats fed another of Monsanto's Bt corn varieties called MON 863, also experienced an activation of their immune systems, showing higher numbers of basophils, lymphocytes, and white blood cells6. These can indicate possible allergies, infections, toxins, and various disease states including cancer. There were also signs of liver and kidney toxicity.

USDA Clears Roundup Ready Sugar Beets

So-called "Roundup Ready" crops are another type of genetically engineered crops. While Bt crops contain a gene that produces a pesticide inside the plant itself, Roundup Ready crops are designed to withstand otherwise lethal topical doses of glyphosate—a broad spectrum herbicide, and the active ingredient in Monsanto's herbicide Roundup as well as hundreds of other products.

This way, the crop survives while all weeds are theoretically eliminated from the field. I say 'theoretically' because the overuse of the herbicide has led to the rapid development of glyphosate-resistant superweeds. It's estimated that more than 130 types of weeds spanning 40 U.S. states are now herbicide-resistant, and the superweeds are showing no signs of stopping.

Roundup Ready crops have also been linked to serious health problems—particularly relating to fertility and birth defects—as has glyphosate itself, which is why the latest news regarding the deregulation of Roundup Ready sugar beets is all the more disappointing.

A number of organizations challenged the USDA approval of Roundup Ready (RR) sugar beets in 2008, arguing that the beets would contaminate related organic and non-GE crops such as table beets and chard. Further, they said that the pesticide-resistant beets would increase pesticide impacts on the environment and worsen the current epidemic of pesticide-resistant superweeds.

A lawsuit was filed against the USDA in 2009 for failure to complete an Environmental Impact Study. A federal judge agreed, temporarily suspending all planting of RR sugar beets. The suspension was later overridden by the USDA, ostensibly to prevent a sugar shortage. After a number of additional legal twists and turns, the USDA has now announced its decision to deregulate Monsanto's Roundup Ready genetically modified sugar beets7. According to a July 19 press release by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)8:

"After completing both a thorough environmental impact statement and plant pest risk assessment, holding three public meetings and considering and analyzing thousands of comments regarding its analyses, APHIS has determined that, from the standpoint of plant pest risk, Roundup Ready sugarbeets are as safe as traditionally bred sugarbeets."

GM Companies Threaten Food Security and Sovereignty

A landmark speech delivered during the 2011 SEMEAR conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on how genetically modified (GM) seed companies threaten food security and food sovereignty has resulted in a call to action by an unlikely source who is a key player in the soy industry. Pierre Patriat, President of APROSMAT, the association of seed producers of Mato Grosso, Brazil, does not oppose genetically engineered (GE) crops, but he does recognize the unprecedented threat to food security that GM seeds pose.

Saying that the GM industry is rapidly taking away Brazilian farmers' freedom of choice, he asked for "immediate mobilization and action on the part of concerned industry members, government, lawmakers, farmers, and civil society to avert the threat to food sovereignty posed by the GM industry's control of markets through their patented seeds," according to a recent report by GM Watch9.

In his speech, which I recommend reading in its entirety to learn more, Patriat wisely says:

"... [T]oday, people think everything can be resolved through the seed. If soybean rust occurs they say, "Just wait, this can be resolved with genetic engineering!" A problem with nematodes? - "We'll change the seed directly!" They want to solve all problems that way... But as long as we have alternative solutions we don't need genetic engineering to get rid of all problems.

Today we have a big problem with nematodes for a simple reason, not least because of the lack of a medium-term agricultural policy. There is a solution known to every agronomist: Crop rotation! That is how weeds and pests are weakened. It is so simple! Another way is soil management and measures to correct the soil - fundamental things nobody pays attention to anymore because everything has to be resolved through the seed.

No one does rotation any more - everyone does succession [planting same crop in succession]. These are problems that are not resolved by biotechnology. The man who is going to spend 150-200 Brazilian dollars per hectare would do much better to invest it in the [quality of the] land. The profitability in the medium term will be much better for sure. This does not mean that constant seed improvement will not bring solutions. But we ought to cooperate and define the base for new regulations, so that everyone may collaborate harmoniously without abusing their economic power.

Because today there are no brakes on the abuse of economic power over seed, and even worse, this affects the sovereignty of a country, because it is a matter of food security and food security is national security."

The issue of food sovereignty is certainly not restricted to Brazil. It's becoming a serious threat to every nation on this planet as genetically engineered crops spread. These seeds are owned by private companies, and it's imperative to understand that once a country allows GE crops to monopolize their agricultural sector, it becomes completely beholden to and dependent upon a corporation for the ability to grow food and feed its citizens!

Source : Mercola More   

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