America is facing a deluge of evictions. Each year in the United States, about 3.7 million evictions occur, according to Matthew Desmond, principal investigator of Princeton University’s “Eviction Lab” project. The Lab tracks evictions throughout the country and produces the first nationwide eviction database. Because of coronavirus and the massive loss of jobs, 28 million are on the edge of being homeless.
The CARES Act expired on July 24th. The legislation gave renters a 120 day grace period from “fees, penalties, or charges concerning nonpayment of rent” and barred landlords from filing eviction notices of any kind during that period. Congress is arguing rather than passing an extension.
Michigan’s Supreme Court posted, “Given that approximately 17,000 landlord/tenant cases are filed each month, the State Court Administrative Office estimates that more than 75,000 cases could potentially be filed in district courts statewide once the pause in case filing ends.”.
Mint Press News writes, “The situation facing low-income communities is exceedingly harsh when considering the endemic economic disparity that characterizes cash-poor communities with scant access to any sort of financial resources or affordable credit. Studies on wealth inequality have shown time and again how excessive rent burdens can leave families on the brink of homelessness over relatively minor, unexpected emergencies like a simple car repair or a doctor’s visit.”
A moratorium on evictions expired at the end of May in Nebraska. Houston has already lifted the eviction freeze leading many in the legal profession to expect a “tsunami” of eviction filings. The prospect of homelessness looms large over working families living on incomes under $40K a year; 40 percent of which lost a source of employment in March, according to Shamus Roller of the National Housing Law Project.
Some High Tech companies are going to invest their money into rentals. Facebook invested $1 billion for the construction of 20,000 new affordable housing units in California, following Google’s lead, which had made the same commitment a few months earlier. Apple more than doubled Google’s and Facebook’s investment, combined, when it put down $2.5 billion for the same cause. That’s an excellent start for maybe 100,000 units, but the problem is enormous, and housing is needed now, not years away.
Property owners are feeling the pain. “The ones that weren’t able to get the rent from their tenants had to go to their mortgage companies and perhaps get a forbearance. But the thing that doesn’t stop is that the payment for the repairs, the insurance, hiring someone to make the repairs, property taxes. All of the costs to maintain the property always go on.”
Some say the solution to the problem is more time for renters to get back to paying rent. Others suggest communication between the landlord and the tenant. Still, others suggest we taxpayers pay the rent of those out of work. Eventually, we all have bills to pay. That may mean a lot of the 28 million facing a deluge of evictions will be facing life in “Hoovervilles” on the outskirts of most cities.
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