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

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Residents protest rent and evictions during the pandemic in Washington, D.C., in May.

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.

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