Millions of renters across the country face eviction as a federal moratorium set to expire at the end of July is unlikely to be extended, according to Bloomberg.
The federal ban on evictions, which has been in place through most of the pandemic, is one of a raft of emergency programs set to end despite officials sounding the (perpetual) alarm over the Delta variant.
While some states, including California and New York, have their own eviction bans, the expiration of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s moratorium has housing advocates worried about a surge in landlords forcing out tenants who have fallen behind on rent.
Congress has allocated nearly $47 billion in assistance but so far states and local jurisdictions have been slow to distribute the funds. -Bloomberg
“It is reckless not to extend the deadline when rental assistance funds have not gone out fast enough to protect people,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Friday, adding: “Eviction filings have already spiked in anticipation of the deadline being lifted.”
Opining on the matter is NYU professor Ingrid Gould Ellen, a housing expert who has studied federal emergency rental assistance programs during the pandemic, who told Bloomberg that “The hardest-to-reach renters are also the most vulnerable to eviction, and that group is large enough to cause an unprecedented spike in eviction filings, warrants and, ultimately, homelessness if we don’t remain focused on getting them and their landlords the assistance Congress has made available.”
Gould Ellen noted that according to the Census Pulse Survey, 16% of renters owe back rent – down from a peak of 20% in January, but still a significant number of people, adding that nearly one in four black renters report being behind on rent.
Q. When the CDC eviction moratorium expires, where do you expect evictions to climb the most?
A. I would expect evictions to rise the most in places where housing costs are high or climbing, demand is strong and tenant protections are low. That probably means the Sunbelt and the southeastern U.S., though there are likely to be widespread increases.
Q. The economy is bouncing back. Who needs rental assistance in the U.S. now?
A. The majority of the jobs lost have been in industries that pay low average wages, and disproportionately employ renters, and the Delta variant spike poses a renewed threat. Our research on rent arrears in New York City suggests that the greatest need is concentrated among a small group of households, many of whom were already struggling before Covid hit. As with so many issues, there are troubling racial disparities. Black and Hispanic households are more likely to have lost employment and therefore to be behind on rent.
Q. How quickly has the government been able to distribute the money and will the $47 billion that Congress allocated be enough?
A. Estimates of need suggest the $47 billion will likely be sufficient if they can get it out the door quickly enough. But again, the slow pace has been worrisome. All levels of government need to work together to get the money out quickly and to strongly encourage, or require where possible, landlords to apply for rental assistance before filing an eviction.
Read the rest of the interview here.
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