Trump denounces coronavirus evictions after long record of evicting his own tenants

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Trump has forcefully evicted many elderly, sick, and poor tenants from Trump-owned properties over his career.

Donald Trump on Monday said he opposed the expiration of an eviction moratorium in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I don't want people to be evicted," Trump said at a news conference when asked if he was considering signing an executive order to halt evictions. "And, you know, when they're evicted, when they're thrown out of there, whatever the place may be, in many cases, they go to big shelters. And if you talk about pandemic, this is a pandemic, and they go to shelters. Number one, they're thrown out viciously. It's not their fault — it's China's fault. It's not anybody's fault — it's China's fault."

Trump said he would sign an executive order if Congress didn't extend the moratorium.

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But Trump has a long history of evicting tenants from his real estate properties — many of them poor, elderly, or sick.

A number of the forceful evictions took place in the 1980s, when Trump owned rental properties in New York and tried to expand his portfolio of properties,  according to American Bridge, a Democratic research group.

In 1980, the Trump Organization evicted 74-year-old bedridden stroke victim Mary Filan from her Queens apartment, taking her belongings such as a "sofa, chairs, TV, jewelry, dishes, and silverware" and bringing them to a dump, the Village Voice reported at the time. Filan's belongings were broken beyond repair.

"They said they'd come to put me on the street because I owed four months' rent. I don't owe back rent. The last thing I got from Trump was a bill for $10.20 about two weeks ago, and I sent that. They just want me out because they can get twice as much rent," Filan said about the incident. 

Also in the 1980s, Trump tried to force out tenants of 100 Central Park South — which he wanted to revamp — with forceful tactics.

"[Trump] brought specious lawsuits against some of them, and judges have thrown these out, charging him with 'bad faith,' 'harassment' and 'intimidation' — in one case ordering young Donald to pay the tenant's legal fees," the New York Times wrote. "Also, he proposed putting some of the city's homeless people into the dozen or so apartments he has already emptied in the building."

One of those tenants was James Galef, who had lived in the building since he as born.

"On Jan. 1, 1982, 10 months after Mr. Trump bought the 15-story building, Mr. Galef received a notice that said he had to restore the apartment to its original condition within 10 days or face immediate eviction," the New York Times wrote of Galef's treatment by Trump. "This meant, [Galef] said, that he had to replace a wall that had been torn down in 1955, before he was born."

And in the early 2000s, Trump tried to evict tenants from a hotel he purchased on Park Avenue in New York so he could renovate it. According to a New York Times report, he "sought to evict 3 of the 17 remaining tenants."

"Donald Trump, not China, allowed coronavirus to wreck our country by mismanaging the response. Tragically, the downstream effect of an economy in ruins is housing insecurity," Kyle Morse, an American Bridge 21st Century spokesperson, said in a statement. "Trump's history of brutal evictions and his White House’s refusal to seriously negotiate on a coronavirus relief package proves how little he cares about the millions of unemployed Americans and whether they have a roof over their head."

As many as 28 million people may be kicked out of their homes if the current eviction moratorium is not extended, Reuters reported.

But an executive order extending the eviction moratorium wouldn't be necessary if Senate Republicans had considered a bill passed in the House months ago.

Led by Democrats, the House passed a bill on May 15 extending the eviction moratorium as well as extending the $600 weekly unemployment insurance boost, giving more direct payments to Americans, and appropriating aid for state and local governments and food stamps.

But Senate Republicans refused to pass House Democrats' legislation and wouldn't even engage in negotiations with Democrats until days before the eviction moratorium was set to expire on July 25.

Democrats are currently negotiating with the White House to try to find terms for a coronavirus relief package that Senate Republicans will agree to.

A major hold-up includes a boost to unemployment insurance. Democrats are standing firm in their demand that Congress pass $600 a weekly unemployment insurance boost, while the Trump administration and Senate Republicans want to drastically cut those payments.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.