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
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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

It’s still the question on everyone’s minds: What’s going on with extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits?

The $600-a-week payments have ended, officially, as of July 31. For now, there is no additional federal pandemic unemployment assistance. House Democrats want to renew the $600 payments. Senate Republicans have proposed giving the unemployed 70% of their most recent salary by this October, when state unemployment offices have had time to reconfigure their computer systems to do those calculations. Until then, jobless workers would just get another $200. But, nothing has been signed into law yet.

What’s the latest on evictions?

For millions of Americans, things are looking grim. Unemployment is high, and pandemic eviction moratoriums have expired in states across the country. And as many people already know, eviction is something that can haunt a person’s life for years. For instance, getting evicted can make it hard to rent again. And that can lead to spiraling poverty.

Which retailers are requiring that people wear masks when shopping? And how are they enforcing those rules?

Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, CVS, Home Depot, Costco — they all have policies that say shoppers are required to wear a mask. When an employee confronts a customer who refuses, the interaction can spin out of control, so many of these retailers are telling their workers to not enforce these mandates. But, just having them will actually get more people to wear masks.

You can find answers to more questions on unemployment benefits and COVID-19 here.

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