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Chris Arnold

NPR correspondent Chris Arnold is based in Boston. His reports are heard regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazines Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. He joined NPR in 1996 and was based in San Francisco before moving to Boston in 2001.

Most recently, Arnold has been reporting on the financial struggle millions of Americans are facing amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. As part of that, he's done investigative stories showing how mortgage companies have been misleading homeowners who've lost their jobs, demanding outrageous balloon payments if they skip mortgage payments and scaring them away from help that Congress wanted them to have under the CARES Act.

Arnold's reporting often focuses on consumer protection issues. His series of stories "The Trouble with TEACH Grants," that he reported with NPR's Cory Turner, exposed a debacle at the U.S. Department of Education through which public school teachers had grants unfairly converted into large student loan debts — some upwards of $20,000. As a result of the stories, members of Congress demanded reforms and the Education Department overhauled the program and is now giving thousands of teachers their grant money back and erasing their debts.

Arnold was honored with a 2017 George Foster Peabody Award for his coverage of the Wells Fargo banking scandal. His stories sparked a Senate inquiry into the bank's treatment of employees who tried to blow the whistle on the wrongdoing. Arnold also won the National Association of Consumer Advocates Award for Investigative Journalism for a series of stories he reported with ProPublica that exposed improper debt collection practices by non-profit hospitals who were suing thousands of their low-income patients.

In addition to reporting for NPR's main radio programs, Arnold has been hosting the personal finance episodes of NPR's Life Kit podcasts, which offer listeners actionable tips backed up by behavioral economics research on the best ways to save money, invest for the future and a range of other topics.

Arnold previously served as the lead reporter for the NPR series "Your Money and Your Life", which explored personal finance issues. As part of that, he reported on the problem of Wall Street firms charging excessive fees in retirement accounts — fees that siphon billions of dollars annually from Americans trying to save for the future. For this series, Arnold won the 2016 Gerald Loeb Award, which honors work that informs and protects the private investor and the general public.

Following the 2008 financial crisis and collapse of the housing market, Arnold reported on problems within the nation's largest banks that led to the banks improperly foreclosing on thousands of American homeowners. For this work, Arnold earned a 2011 Edward R. Murrow Award for the special series, "The Foreclosure Nightmare." He's also been honored with the Newspaper Guild's 2009 Heywood Broun Award for broadcast journalism. He was also a finalist for the Scripps Howard Foundation's National Journalism Award.

Arnold was chosen for a Nieman Journalism Fellowship at Harvard University during the 2012-2013 academic year. He joined a small group of other journalists from the U.S. and abroad and studied economics, leadership, and the future of journalism in the digital age. Arnold also teaches Radio Journalism as a Lecturer at Yale University and was named a Poynter Fellow by Yale in 2016.

Over his career at NPR, Arnold has covered a range of other subjects — from Katrina recovery in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, to immigrant workers in the fishing industry, to a new kind of table saw that won't cut your fingers off. He traveled to Turin, Italy, for NPR's coverage of the 2006 Winter Olympics. He has also followed the dramatic rise in the numbers of teenagers abusing the powerful and highly addictive painkiller Oxycontin.

In the days and months following the Sept. 11 attacks, Arnold reported from New York and contributed to the NPR coverage that won the Overseas Press Club and the George Foster Peabody Awards. He chronicled the recovery effort at Ground Zero, focusing on members of the Port Authority Police department as they struggled with the deaths of 37 officers — the greatest loss of any police department in U.S. history.

Prior to his move to Boston, Arnold traveled the country for NPR doing feature stories on entrepreneurship. His pieces covered technologists, farmers, and family business owners. He also reported on efforts to kindle entrepreneurship in economically disadvantaged areas ranging from inner-city Los Angeles to the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota.

Arnold has worked in public radio since 1993. Before joining NPR, he was a freelance reporter working out of San Francisco's NPR Member Station, KQED.

A federal judge has issued a sweeping ruling that would revoke a pandemic eviction moratorium put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But the Justice Department is appealing on behalf of the CDC.

The case was brought by the Alabama Association of Realtors, which argued that the CDC doesn't have the power to tell landlords they can't evict people during a pandemic. The judge agreed.

It was a pretty brutal holiday season for Barbara Gaught in Billings, Montana. Back in December, just a week before Christmas, she got an eviction notice.

"It was at like six thirty at night that a sheriff came and taped a notice on the door," she says. "On a Friday night."

The Texas state court system is signaling that it will no longer enforce a federal order aimed at stopping evictions during the coronavirus pandemic. That could clear the way for landlords to push ahead with tens of thousands of eviction cases that have been on hold.

The timing could be particularly painful for many families, coming after Congress has approved billions of dollars to help people pay the rent they owe to avoid eviction but before the vast majority of renters have been able to receive any of that money.

Getting evicted can hurt you in a bunch of different ways. You don't have to tell that to 57-year-old Gregory Curry in Dothan, Ala.

"I'll be honest with you, I was petrified by this situation," Curry says. "What I've had to go through over this last year."

Curry fell behind on rent after the furniture store where he was a salesman shut down due to COVID-19. His landlord filed an eviction case against him over the summer.

With many Americans behind on their rent during the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is extending an order aimed at preventing evictions through June.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a historic threat to the nation's public health," says CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. "Keeping people in their homes and out of crowded or congregate settings — like homeless shelters — by preventing evictions is a key step in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19."

Many Americans are ready and eager to buy a home right now. But they're having trouble finding one.

Home sales edged down 6.6% in February compared with the previous month because there just aren't enough houses out there for people to buy.

That lack of supply is also driving up prices as bidding wars break out with multiple offers on many homes.

"The housing market is out of whack," says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors. "There's a lot of demand, but the supply is not coming along."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has taken a key step toward extending an order aimed at preventing evictions during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. The CDC order is currently set to expire in less than 2 weeks.

Housing advocates have warned for months that allowing this protection for renters to lapse would spark a tsunami of evictions, putting upward of 1 million people out of their homes.

Wells Fargo customers trying Wednesday to find out if their stimulus payments had arrived instead found their mobile app not working and online accounts not accessible. The bank said the outage is due to high volumes and won't affect the electronic deposit of the stimulus money.

"We apologize to our customers who may be experiencing issues with our online banking this morning," the bank said in a tweet. "This does not affect stimulus payments with a March 17 effective date which were credited to accounts today. Thanks for your patience. "

Nearly 10 million Americans are behind on their rent payments, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And Stephanie Graves is seeing that play out first hand. She's a landlord in the Houston area and says tenants in most of her buildings are struggling.

"I have a small property in town," she says. "It's about 22 units and eight residents have not been able to pay over 6 months on and off." She says she might get a $100 partial payment on a $1,000 rent.

The Trump administration was all about loosening rules for businesses. But Gary Gensler, President Biden's nominee to head the Securities and Exchange Commission, has a very different mantra.

"When there are clear rules of the road and a cop on the beat to enforce them—our economy grows and our nation prospers," Gensler told members of the Senate Banking Committee.

The need for a tough cop on the beat during the pandemic is clear to Rohit Chopra - Biden's pick to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Sheila Ambert lies awake at night wondering if her family is about to get tossed out on the street.

"As a mother, you feel like you failed your kids," Ambert says. "You don't want them having to go through that or even knowing about it, which they do."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

GameStop stock has fallen back to earth. But the WallStreetBets group on Reddit helped launch it like a rocket — late in January, the shares spiked up 1,910% from earlier in the month. Some people in the group made money if they got out at the right time. A few became wealthy in a life-changing way.

So, has the power of social media changed the investing world? Is it possible to join an investing messaging board and strike it rich on the next hot stock pick?

Sadly, probably not.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Consumer watchdog groups are applauding President Biden's pick of Gary Gensler to run the Securities and Exchange Commission. They say that there is much to do to protect everyday Americans who invest their retirement or other savings in the market and that Gensler has proved he can get that done.

But progressives were a lot more skeptical about Gensler back in 2009 when he was first chosen to be a top financial regulator. That's because, in some ways, Gensler is the ultimate Wall Street insider.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

President Biden plans to extend a nationwide pause on evictions through the end of March.

The federal eviction moratorium, implemented through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is intended to help tenants who have been battered economically by the pandemic.

Eager to get out of the house and enjoy the outdoors, more people than ever are hitting the slopes on skis and snowboards.

"Oh, yeah. I mean, we sold probably a thousand more season passes this year than we ever had," says John DeVivo, the General Manager of Cannon Mountain in New Hampshire. "We were up about 20% in pass sales."

The Trump administration is trying to push through a last-minute rule that could force banks to offer loans to gun-makers and oil exploration companies or to finance high-cost payday lenders.

For months, the warning was clear from economists, housing advocates and public health experts: Without more help from Congress, millions of Americans could be evicted, in the dead of winter, in the middle of a raging pandemic.

"I can't construct a darker scenario," Moody's Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi told NPR in November. "It's absolutely critical that lawmakers step up."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

When Tiffany Robinson heard about an order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to stop evictions, it seemed like the life raft she needed.

"I thought this is going to help," said Robinson, "this is going to protect me."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Congress has ordered banks to allow most homeowners hurt financially in the pandemic to skip mortgage payments. Some renters are covered by eviction protections.

If you're asking for this kind of help, NPR wants to hear from you.

We want to know how all of this is playing out. Are banks and other lenders following the rules and working to help you? If you're a renter, is your landlord being flexible whether that's required under the law or not? We want to hear your experiences.

The pandemic rages on. More than 180,000 people tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday. States and cities are closing businesses. Nearly 800,000 people are applying for unemployment every week.

Despite all this, Congress has not passed an economic relief package since late April — and a set of vital relief measures helping millions of Americans avoid financial ruin and eviction are all set to expire this month.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

With their savings running out, many Americans are being forced to use credit cards to pay for bills they can't afford — even their rent. Housing experts and economists say this is a blinking-red warning light that without more relief from Congress, the economy is headed for even more serious trouble.

There are fewer homes for sale in the U.S. today than ever recorded in data going back nearly 40 years. That's a big part of what's driving up home prices much faster than incomes, and making homeownership less affordable for more and more Americans.

"We are simply facing a housing shortage, a major housing shortage," says Lawrence Yun, the chief economist at the National Association of Realtors which tracks home sales. "We need to build more homes. Supply is critical in the current environment."

Updated at 8:48 a.m. ET

The day after Christmas, millions of Americans will lose their jobless benefits, according to a new study. And that could spell financial ruin for many people, like 44-year-old Todd Anderson in the small town of Mackinaw City, Mich.

Anderson's a single dad with four kids — two of them 5-year-old twins. He lost his income after the pandemic hit in the spring. He did landscape design at resorts that host big weddings, and he says all that's been shut down.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The day after Christmas, 12 million Americans will lose their jobless benefits, and that could spell financial ruin for many of them. That's according to a new study just out this morning. It looks at what will happen if Congress can't reach a compromise to extend those benefits and pass another relief bill. NPR's Chris Arnold is reporting on this and joins us this morning. Hi, Chris.

CHRIS ARNOLD, BYLINE: Hey, Rachel.

MARTIN: Why will so many be in trouble right at the end of the year?

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