Day 93 – Forestalling the Tsusami of Evictions

Poynter: At the end of this month, the country may be on the cusp of a new phase of the COVID-19 crisis: a wave of evictions. One estimate based on census data says, “8.4 million renter households, which include 20.1 million individual renters, could experience an eviction filing”. Some sources project twice that number, approximately 40 million.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s moratorium on evictions ends on Jan. 1. Not only will millions of renters be at risk of eviction, but they will owe months of back rent. Between now and then, landlords will be flooding courts with eviction petitions to get rulings in place that will force renters out as soon as the federal order expires. 

CBS News: COVID has already had a devastating economic impact: One in four American households has experienced job loss or diminished income. Ten million people have lost their jobs. Rents have continued. And we’re seeing millions of people really at the threat of eviction during a time where your home is the best medicine. Your home is what can prevent you from getting sick.

It’s catastrophic,” said Matthew Desmond, a sociology professor at Princeton University. These days, he is also the principal investigator of the university’s Eviction Lab. “Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of a family who gets evicted. We lose our neighborhood. Our kid loses their school. Often we lose all our things, our possessions, because they’re piled on the sidewalk or taken by movers.”

Forbes: A recent study published in the SSRN science journal found that evictions may “accelerate Covid-19 transmission by increasing household crowding and decreasing individuals’ ability to comply with social distancing directives.” The study determined that states with eviction increases saw an estimated 433,700 excess coronavirus cases and 10,700 excess Covid-related fatalities. The infections and fatalities occurred across “27 states that lifted eviction moratoriums” during the study period. In Texas alone, the study found there were 4,456 excess deaths after the state lifted its eviction moratorium on May 18.

Death by eviction. Evictions result in crowding, as families consolidate homes to make ends meet, or homelessness, forcing families to live in shelters or other congregate settings. This increases the chances of contracting COVID. Further, the impact of COVID on this population may be more severe because “poor health and costs associated with healthcare may drive eviction risk.” 

Experts are estimating that “renters will owe close to $70 billion in unpaid rent…in January, or $5,400 for the typical family that has fallen behind.” Diane Yentel, the President and CEO of National Low Income Housing Coalition, indicated that “it’s going [to] take at least $100 billion in rental assistance.” In contrast, U.S. Billionaires Gained $1 Trillion Since The Pandemic Started, according to Statista

While politicians bicker about the size and contents of another relief bill, thousands of families are likely to end up on the streets.  Come January 1, if no additional help is forthcoming, the abyss will widen, swallowing untold more victims of the Covid Pandemic.   

For more information about the eviction crisis, along with current statistics for your area, check out the Eviction Lab website. The Coalition for the Homeless Eviction Prevention Program saves more than 800 households each year from the trauma of homelessness — keeping them in their own homes and out of the shelter system. You can donate here