Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Geri Andre-Major helps her son Max, 5, with his school work on March 26, 2020 in Mount Vernon, New York. Andre-Major said she was furloughed as a pre-school teacher at Chelsea Piers Connecticut on March 13.

Geri Andre-Major helps her son Max, 5, with his school work on March 26, 2020 in Mount Vernon, New York. Andre-Major said she was furloughed as a pre-school teacher at Chelsea Piers Connecticut on March 13. (Photo: John Moore/Getty Images)

With Bills Due April 1, More Than 400,000 Demand Congress Freeze All Rent, Mortgage, and Utility Payments

"Millions are wondering how they'll pay their rent or mortgage by tomorrow. We need additional emergency action suspending rent, mortgage and utility payments for the duration of this crisis."

Jake Johnson

More than 400,000 people have signed a petition calling on Congress to freeze all rent, mortgage, and utility payments nationwide in order to prevent a looming "housing catastrophe" as millions of Americans head into April jobless and unsure whether they will be able to afford their bills.

"Millions are wondering how they'll pay their rent or mortgage by tomorrow," said Justin Ruben, co-director of ParentsTogether Action, which organized the petition. "We need additional emergency action suspending rent, mortgage and utility payments for the duration of this crisis."

"How the hell are people expected to pay their bills tomorrow? Rent, mortgages, utilities, and more must be frozen immediately."
—Public Citizen

On Tuesday, ParentsTogether released a survey showing that just 38% of parents believe they will be able to make their rent or mortgage payments on Wednesday without cutting back on food, medicine, or other necessities.

"This isn't a choice we should be forcing people to make," said Ruben.

An estimated 43 million U.S. households are renters, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council. Wednesday marks the first time rent payments are due since the coronavirus crisis shuttered large segments of the economy and sparked mass layoffs. Nearly 3.3 million people filed unemployment claims two weeks ago and millions more likely lost their jobs last week.

An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released earlier this month showed that nearly one in five U.S. adults have either lost their jobs or seen a reduction in hours as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

"How the hell are people expected to pay their bills tomorrow?" asked consumer advocacy group Public Citizen. "Rent, mortgages, utilities, and more must be frozen immediately."

As Common Dreams reported Sunday, calls for a nationwide rent moratorium have surged in recent days as the economic fallout from the coronavirus shows no sign of abating.

Cea Weaver, spokesperson for the New York-based tenant coalition Housing Justice for All, warned that the U.S. could see "apocalyptic levels of homelessness and evictions" if lawmakers don't freeze rent and other monthly payments immediately.

The Intercept's Aída Chávez reported last Friday that "major bill payments have barely factored into U.S. politicians' response" to the coronavirus pandemic.

"While some states—namely New York—have taken steps to temporarily block evictions, congressional Democrats, with the exception of a handful of progressive lawmakers, have shown almost no interest in addressing the bills due in less than a week, one of the most pressing financial concerns ordinary people currently face," Chávez noted.

One exception is Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who on Tuesday criticized New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for demanding a 90-day moratorium on mortgage payments while ignoring renters.

"If you called for a suspension or moratorium on mortgage payments, then we should also call for that same treatment on rent payments," Ocasio-Cortez said during an appearance on "The Brian Lehrer Show" on WNYC.

"We're essentially rewarding and offering preferential treatment to landowners and folks who are more wealthy," the New York Democrat added, "and we're not offering that same kind of relief to renters."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Dems to Biden: Overhaul Drone Program That Has Killed Thousands of Civilians

"In too many instances, U.S. drone strikes have instead led to unintended and deadly consequences—killing civilians and increasing anger towards the United States."

Brett Wilkins ·


War With Russia Over Ukraine 'Last Thing' US Needs, Say Progressives

Urging diplomacy over violence, foreign policy experts say "Biden's failure to acknowledge Russia's legitimate security concerns has led to the present impasse."

Jessica Corbett ·


Asked About Black Voters, McConnell Says Quiet, Racist Part Very Loud

"The othering of Americans who aren't white was never a 'quiet part,'" said Rep. Ilhan Omar, "it has always been loud and painful for everyone who has experienced it."

Brett Wilkins ·


'A Basic Human Right': Bowman, Markey Unveil Affordable Energy Bill

Sen. Ed Markey called the proposal "the ambitious and comprehensive legislation we need to help ensure the health and safety of American families and support a just transition away from fossil fuel consumption."

Julia Conley ·


Heavily Polluted Louisiana Community Asks EPA to Step In

"Louisiana has failed to protect fenceline communities, including St. John residents, from the harms of highly polluting facilities," said one local advocate.

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo