July 31, 2021
Eviction hurts everyone involved. Tenants lose their homes. Landlords lose any real chance of collecting what they’re owed. A community suffers the costs of homeless and, during a pandemic, the spread of a virus, when people crowd into shelters or the homes of friends and loved ones. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) looked to head off this last outcome when it issued a federal eviction moratorium last September. That ban, extended most recently by the Biden administration in June, is set to expire on July 31. President Biden called on Congress Thursday to extend it, in the face of ongoing unemployment issues and the recent rise of COVID’s Delta variant. What would the end of the moratorium mean for renters who are behind on their payments, as well as the broader communities where they live?
The temporary eviction moratorium prevents landlords from removing people from their homes for nonpayment of rent. When it was established, the pandemic was in full swing, and the economy was still largely shut down. The unemployment rate, which peaked at 14.8 percent in April of 2020, had only dropped to 8.4 percent. And that rate was still more then double the rate from February (3.5 percent), the last full month before the pandemic. Lost jobs and heightened risk of working outside the home were major contributors.
Because of lost wages and lost jobs, millions of people went into arrears on rent. And those who had not paid for months risked losing their homes. A wave of evictions would force people to crowd in with family and friends or turn to shelters at a time when social distancing was the best defense against a deadly virus. Despite the economic implications for landlords, the eviction moratorium was a critical health measure.
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