COVID-19

Wave of evictions could hit U.S. as protections and benefits expire

Jasmine Garsd Jul 17, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace
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Residents protest rent and evictions during the pandemic in Washington, D.C,, in May. Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

Wave of evictions could hit U.S. as protections and benefits expire

Jasmine Garsd Jul 17, 2020
Residents protest rent and evictions during the pandemic in Washington, D.C,, in May. Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

July is being called a pivotal month for the looming American housing crisis. 

Eviction moratoriums are coming to an end. And so is a lot of assistance for renters and homeowners. Experts say we could be looking at a wave of evictions and an increase in homelessness. It’s a crisis that’s been brewing since the COVID-19 pandemic started.

Record unemployment has led to nearly 20% of people missing their rent payments in June.

Some state moratoriums on evictions, mandated in response to the pandemic, have already expired.

“What we’re expecting in July is a really steep cliff,” said Mary Cunningham with the Urban Institute. “That’s when two things happen that really have been preventing millions of Americans from losing their homes.”

The extra $600 a week in federal unemployment benefits expires at the end of this month. And while the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act prohibited evictions against people who lived in federally subsidized housing, that, too, expires next week 

Experts are expecting a “tsunami of evictions.”

Lisa Rice, president of the National Fair Housing Alliance, said the fallout will go beyond renters.

“If people can’t pay their rent, then landlords can’t pay their mortgages and will have to lay off staff,” Rice said. “Then that just exacerbates the unemployment rate.”

And it will affect some more than others.

“People of color are most at risk of eviction. They are disproportionately rent burdened,” said Diane Yentel of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Some states and cities have either extended their eviction protection measures or passed renters’ assistance programs. But, experts say, unless sweeping action is taken, a countrywide storm is coming our way.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Are states ready to roll out COVID-19 vaccines?

Claire Hannan, executive director of the nonprofit Association of Immunization Managers, which represents state health officials, said states have been making good progress in their preparations. And we could have several vaccines pretty soon. But states still need more funding, she said. Hannan doesn’t think a lack of additional funding would hold up distribution initially, but it could cause problems down the road. “It’s really worrisome that Congress may not pass funding or that there’s information circulating saying that states don’t need additional funding,” she said.

How is the service industry dealing with the return of coronavirus restrictions?

Without another round of something like the Paycheck Protection Program, which kept a lot of businesses afloat during the pandemic’s early stages, the outlook is bleak for places like restaurants. Some in the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, only got one week of indoor dining back before cases rose and restrictions went back into effect. Restaurant owners are revamping their business models in an effort to survive while waiting to see if they’ll be able to get more aid.

How are hospitals handling the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases?

As the pandemic surges and more medical professionals themselves are coming down with COVID, nearly 1 in 5 hospitals in the country report having a critical shortage of staff, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. One of the knock-on effects of staff shortages is that people who have other medical needs are being asked to wait.

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