The ‘worst national eviction crisis in U.S. history?’ How you can help.
Just one day before a federal moratorium on evictions expires, House and Senate Democrats, the Biden Administration, housing advocates and local and state officials in some jurisdictions scrambled Friday to avert a nationwide humanitarian disaster. But one slim hope was dashed. The House of Representatives could not find the votes to pass an extension of the moratorium on its last day before recess.
U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey data show how dire the situation is — and that it might be getting worse. Data collected between May 26 and June 7 showed that 7.1 million renters said they were behind on their rent; of those, 3.2 million, or 46 percent, said they thought it was somewhat or very likely they would be evicted in the next two months.
But about a month later, the same survey seemed to suggest the problem is expanding. Data collected between June 26 and July 7 showed that 7.4 million renters were behind on their rent; of those, 3.6 million, or just under 50 percent, said they thought it was somewhat or very likely they would be evicted in the next two months. During that same period, 2.1 million renters with children said they were somewhat or very likely to be evicted.
“Lifting protections for renters is premature and will likely create the worst national eviction crisis in U.S. history,” wrote Jaboa Lake, Senior Policy Analyst for the Poverty to Prosperity Program at the Center for American Progress.
Immediate action is needed.
The Coalition on Human Needs is urging everyone to write their members of Congress and demand that lawmakers substantially expand the nation’s housing voucher program – currently the waiting list for Housing Choice Vouchers averages 28 months and in some places is as long as five years. Congress passed emergency rental relief to stave off evictions, and the Biden Administration is ramping up efforts to distribute that money to tenants and landlords around the country. But as vital as the emergency aid is, it’s but a temporary plug in a bursting dam – we need more permanent solutions to America’s housing crisis. Write your members of Congress today.
There’s something else you may be able to do, particularly if you know someone who is having trouble paying their rent, utilities, or other housing costs, or if you know of a landlord who is trying to stay afloat with tenants in this situation: they may qualify for the emergency aid. Congress has approved $46 billion in rent and utility assistance, but the money is flowing out more quickly in some places than others. The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has unveiled a web site to help people learn if they qualify and navigate the application process – help spread the word!
In the meantime, this is a bad time for the eviction moratorium to expire The Delta variant of COVID-19 is rapidly expanding throughout the country – a new report says the Delta variant spreads as easily as chickenpox and more easily than the common cold, the 1918 flu, and smallpox – and there is evidence that eviction moratoria save lives.
According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), research shows that evictions occurring between the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020 and issuance of the first CDC eviction moratorium in September 2020 led to more than 400,000 additional COVID-19 cases and nearly 11,000 additional deaths. Other experts have noted that there is an overlap between localities with high eviction filings and low COVID-19 vaccination rates.
“The emergence of the Delta variant necessitates a further extension of the CDC eviction moratorium to contain the spread of the deadly disease,” NLIHC states. “As stated by CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on July 22, 2021, ‘the Delta variant is more aggressive and much more transmissible than previously circulating strains. It is one of the most infectious respiratory viruses we know of, and that I have seen in my 20-year career.’”