On today's program: Governor Tom Wolf says he cannot extend the state-wide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures; during the pandemic, some veterans lack internet access, causing difficulties when applying for work; and Black-owned businesses are closing at faster rates and are less likely to see federal aid.
The Confluence launched as a daily program two years ago today. Our first program was a conversation with Police Chief Scott Schubert on tensions between police and protestors following the death of Antwon Rose II. We've come a long way from two years ago and not that far at all. From our team, thank you to our listeners and supporters. To the guests who shared their stories and expertise, thank you as well.
Potential housing crisis could have long-term effects
(00:00 — 8:30)
Governor Tom Wolf halted evictions and foreclosures across the commonwealth in May. The moratorium ends on Monday, but the governor says he does not have the legal authority to extend it, calling on the legislature.
Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate in July was almost 14 percent -- higher than the peak unemployment rate of nine percent during the Great Recession--, and the federal government is at a standstill on extended unemployment benefits. But the rent is still due, and many won’t be able to pay it.
Affordable housing advocates say without an extension or more financial assistance there may be mass evictions.
“We believe that there’s definitely an eviction crisis on the horizon if we don’t all pull together and do something to stop it,” says Celeste Scott, an Affordable Housing Organizer with Pittsburgh United.
She warns that the potential crisis could have both short-term and long-term effects, leaving renters with huge debts or even evictions on their housing records, which can follow them for the rest of their lives.
Eviction is “the Scarlet E for folks when you’re trying to access housing,” Scott says. “Having evictions on your record, it makes it almost impossible to access housing. And if you are a Black indigenous person of color, or someone that is marginalized in these different groups—seniors, veterans, disabled folks—it just makes it impossible.”
Pittsburgh-area veterans without internet access face difficulties applying for jobs
(8:34 — 13:33)
The coronavirus pandemic temporarily closed many community institutions, including libraries and career centers—places where veterans without internet access went to apply for jobs. Without steady access to internet and computers, some veterans are facing an uphill battle.
According to Dayna Brown, the executive director of Pittsburgh Hires Veterans, veterans in the Pittsburgh region typically experience a jobless rate that is 1.5 to 2 percent higher than that of the general public.
“The veterans are definitely struggling more so than that of the general population,” she says.
Some are navigating job applications and Zoom interviews with only a smartphone, or traveling long distances on public transportation to use a computer, which could put them at risk of contracting COVID-19.
“These are just the small things that you don’t think about when you are applying for jobs, but for those job seekers it becomes a really harsh reality when an hour or two process can now take days sometimes,” says Brown.
Philadelphia’s Black-owned businesses closing at faster rates
(13:38 — 18:03)
The pandemic has devastated small businesses across the country, but Black-owned businesses have been hit especially hard. Nationally, Black businesses have been more likely to close and less likely to receive the federal aid they requested compared to other groups.
The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.