Coronavirus sparks U.S. West Coast calls to halt evictions

Thomson Reuters Foundation

Shortly after Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced a ban this week on large gatherings in the Seattle area to stem the largest coronavirus outbreak in the United States, security guard Omar Kadmiri received the message he had been dreading. His employer, which provides security to three performing arts venues, told him he would be out of work until at least April as all shows have been canceled. The newly unemployed 25-year-old now faces a new challenge: making rent. Out of the $1,500 he typically earns each month, $950 goes toward paying for a room in an apartment shared with two flatmates, he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “My rent takes an overwhelming majority of my paycheck,” he said. “There’s no safety net.” As entertainment venues close suddenly, and bars, restaurants and cafes lose business due to the surge in remote working and social distancing, officials in high-rent West Coast cities are calling for a freeze on home evictions to help workers who share a similar plight. The Washington area had more than 450 confirmed cases of the respiratory virus – which emerged in China’s Hubei province late last year – as of Friday morning and 31 related deaths, as estimated by a national tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

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