An apartment company co-owned by President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is reportedly moving to evict hundreds of tenants who are behind on their rent payments, threatening to force low-income families onto the streets in the midst of an intensifying pandemic and nationwide economic crisis.
"As a member of the coronavirus task force, Jared Kushner is responsible for the plight of working people during this pandemic—and now he is exploiting a loophole in the CDC moratorium to kick them out of their homes."
—Alliance for Housing Justice
After reviewing Westminster Management's filings and speaking to dozens of current tenants, the Washington Post reported Thursday that the company "has been sending letters to tenants threatening legal fees and then filing eviction notices in court—a first legal step toward removing tenants."
The lone obstacles preventing Westminster Management—which paid Kushner $1.65 million in 2019—and other companies from completing the eviction process are state and national moratoriums that housing experts say are flimsy and landlord-friendly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's national moratorium is set to expire on December 31, setting the stage for a flood of evictions at the beginning of next year.
Princeton University’s Eviction Lab, which tracks evictions in 24 cities, found that landlords there have filed for 92,619 evictions during the pandemic.
— Jonathan O'Connell (@OConnellPostbiz) November 5, 2020
According to the Post, many of the tenants Westminster is attempting to evict "fell behind on rent losing jobs or wages due to the pandemic." Kushner, who critics have dubbed a "slumlord" over his actions as head of his family's real estate firm, played a significant part in the Trump administration's catastrophic response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has now killed more than 234,000 Americans.
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The Post offered some details on the economically struggling tenants Westminster is moving to evict without regard for their material circumstances:
Those facing eviction proceedings once courts begin hearing cases again include a nurse who struggled financially during the pandemic, healthcare administrators and a single mother who is currently unemployed.
Yolanda Coates, who lives at a Westminster-owned property called Bonnie Ridge in Pikesville, Md., said she has kept her day job at a local child-care facility so far but has occasionally fallen behind on rent. As recently as Sept. 25, Westminster charged her court fees in an ongoing eviction case that started last year, according to an email reviewed by The Post.
"If you don't pay before the fifth of the month, they still send out an eviction notice," Coates said.
Tashika Booker, a resident of another Westminster property, Owings Run, says she used to work for an online education company. She lost her job in May and now receives a little more than $800 per month from unemployment insurance, but it's not enough to cover her $1,300 rent.
"As a member of the coronavirus task force, Jared Kushner is responsible for the plight of working people during this pandemic—and now he is exploiting a loophole in the CDC moratorium to kick them out of their homes," tweeted the Alliance for Housing Justice. "We don't need slumlords running our country—we need to cancel rent and ensure that housing is a human right."