Hasan Minhaj’s Netflix series, Patriot Act, returned last night with its first new episode since the pandemic began, and Minhaj wasted no time addressing the show’s new remote format: “Don’t think of this as a Netflix show compromising. Think of this as a YouTube video overachieving.” The episode focuses on how the pandemic has led to record unemployment, which has made it impossible for many people to pay rent. Minhaj warns that not being able to pay rent right now is only the tip of the iceberg of what he calls the “crisis coming after the crisis”: an inevitable tidal wave of evictions on the horizon after the federal moratorium — which only applies to about 28 percent of rental units anyway — ends.
Minhaj recaps how housing court is designed for tenants to fail, even if they win their case (“Housing court is like doing a cappella in college: You think you’re doing everything right, but you’re actually still a loser”), and how Wall Street investment firms have “turned eviction into their new billion-dollar baby” — because of course someone is profiting off a record number of Americans losing their jobs and homes. (If you want to feel even more depressed, Minhaj quotes a Wall Street Journal article from last month that says investors believe the pandemic is a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to buy distressed real-estate assets at bargain prices.”)
“Make no mistake: As we get past the health crisis, there’s an eviction crisis waiting for us on the other side,” Minhaj says near the end of the segment, “and renters don’t deserve to be this vulnerable.” The show has set up a website, dontgetkickedout.com, where you can find out whether your building is covered in the federal moratorium and get access to other tenant resources. It’s not exactly a happy ending or solution, but it’s certainly more help and guidance than the housing court will give you.