We know how to prevent up to 40 million people from being evicted. It’s up to Congress to do it
New Year’s Eve marks the end of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) national eviction moratorium. The expiration of the eviction moratorium would result in millions of Americans losing their homes as COVID-19 cases continue to surge.
According to the Aspen Institute, nearly 40 million Americans could face eviction over the next several months. Since the partial eviction moratorium from the CARES Act expired at the end of July, the lack of congressional action has left a void for federal protections against evictions — leaving states and the CDC to enact its own measures.
Chief economist for Moody’s Analytics Mark Zandi told the Washington Post that tenants could owe nearly $70 billion in back rent by year’s end. And for landlords left holding the bag, there’s been little relief, as they’ve been forced to take on the role of government — subsidizing housing for millions even as their own taxes, mortgage payments, and other expenses are due.
The moratorium is an imperfect solution, and one that leaves a number of renters and landlords hanging. But without Congress passing rental assistance or other stimulus, it’s one of the few things helping keep Americans housed.
In September, a report by the National Council of State Housing Agencies estimated that between 300,000 and 410,000 households across North Carolina are currently unable to pay rent leading to the possibility of nearly 240,000 eviction filings in January.
Despite the CDC eviction moratorium in September, unlawful eviction filings have been increasing in several states, resulting in lawsuits across the country — most recently with Legal Aid of North Carolina filing a lawsuit against state and local court officials in an effort to prevent evictions during the federal moratorium.
In May, House Democrats passed legislation that would cover much of the $70 billion in unpaid rent that comes due in January — allowing these families to stay in their homes and helping mom-and-pop landlords avoid crippling losses. Yet, Senate Republicans refused to negotiate on the relief package.
With the COVID-19 pandemic raging on and millions of Americans on the verge of losing their homes, Congress must act now to provide aid to financially devastated renters and homeowners.
Bottom Line: Partisan politics should not come in-between saving vulnerable families from choosing between paying their rent or their mortgage and putting food on their table.
Congress must act swiftly in addressing the current housing crisis that left millions vulnerable heading into the pandemic and that threatens to leave millions more vulnerable.