The federal moratorium that protected renters from eviction during the pandemic expires today (7/24). At the same time, the $600 federal unemployment payments run out at the end of the month. Experts fear these two changes will bring a major spike in evictions.
19 to 23 million Americans are at risk of eviction by September, according to a study by the Aspen Institute. The majority of those impacted are low-income renters and people of color.
"This is fundamental for millions of Americans,” says Zach Neumann, co-founder of the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project. The group represents tenants facing eviction. He says while federal aid and state orders putting a freeze on evictions did help, much of that aid is now expiring.
In a recent Census Bureau survey, 30% of renters said they have little or no confidence they can pay next month's rent. "When most Americans have less than $1,000 in savings, and they lose their jobs and they're not able to work, their ability to pay their bills goes away pretty quick,” Neumann says.
But property owners argue a freeze on evictions costs them dearly. "If somebody's not able to pay $900 dollars right now, next month that person will owe $1,800, then $3,700. It will just keep piling,” says owner Ajai Sherma.
Single mom Lisa Pradia says she did everything right. After she lost her job, she applied for federal aid and she negotiated with her landlord. But now, after a judge's ruling, she and her teenage daughter Lyanni are being evicted from their Texas home. "Lyanni's gonna be turning 17 next week. Where do we go? I have no idea where we're going,” Pradia says.
Pradia and her daughter are now trying to raise money to find a new home, and they know they're not alone. “This is beyond Lyanni and I now. This isn't about us anymore, this has surpassed us,” Pradia says.
Advocates say Congress could avert an eviction crisis by passing more aid for renters in the next stimulus bill.
Experts say if you're facing eviction, contact legal aid organizations in your area. They can help you understand what your options are.