Analysis: 23 million families could face eviction by October due to pandemic

As legal protections preventing evictions during the coronavirus pandemic begin to expire, one estimate suggests as many as 23 million families could face eviction by October. 

CBS News reported Monday that a study from the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project estimates between 19 million and 23 million renting families nationwide could be at risk of losing their homes by September 30. The possibility of an increase in homelessness in the midst of the pandemic also raises issues of exacerbating the virus’s spread. 

The CARES Act, coronavirus relief legislation signed in late March, included a moratorium on evictions for tenants in units with federally backed mortgages or other assistance who were unable to pay rent. But with no agreement in Congress on an extension of the moratorium, families hit hard by the pandemic may soon have to make new living arrangements.

A Census Bureau survey last month revealed about 20 percent of renters, or 13 million people, missed paying their May rent as unemployment leaves many unable to afford necessities even after receiving federal stimulus checks. Many will be asked to repay the months rent they missed or face eviction when the federal ban ends on July 25. 

The federal moratorium only applies to housing being paid off through federally backed mortgages or insurance — covering about a fifth of renters. Many states and cities chose to pass their own local rent moratoriums that are broader, but as those expire, eviction cases are already heading to court.

CBS News reports there are already 12,000 eviction cases pending in Virginia and another 10,000 cases prepared in North Carolina, two states that saw their eviction moratoriums end in June. 

Advocates have warned the threat of eviction has created dangerous situations for some, saying in April that there was a spike in allegations of landlords soliciting sex in exchange for rent from vulnerable tenants. 

It’s unclear if the fifth coronavirus stimulus package, the contents of which are currently being debated by lawmakers, will address rent issues, but lawmakers are under pressure as the eviction moratorium as well as the small business coronavirus relief loan program and unemployment benefits are all set to expire in coming weeks. 

Some progressive lawmakers, including Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) have called for lawmakers to cancel rent and mortgage payments entirely. Under such proposals, landlords and mortgage holders would be paid relief for the lost income, and those who have struggled with payments during the pandemic would have their debt forgiven.

Tags Coronavirus coronavirus relief COVID-19 eviction Evictions Families Ilhan Omar Rent

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