More than 20 million people in the United States face eviction as moratoriums around the country expire, the Associated Press reports.
About 23 million people are at risk of eviction, according to an analysis by The Aspen Institute.
Most renters have been protected by a patchwork of nationwide, state, and local moratoriums but those have now expired nationally and in 30 states, according to an analysis by Princeton’s Eviction Lab.
Of course, not all landlords abided by the moratoriums and many renters have already faced illegal evictions amid the pandemic.
Courts fill up:
Courtrooms, many of them working over virtual feeds, have been filled with long-struggling low-income families as well as wealthier families facing homelessness for the first time, the AP reported.
That problem is expected to only get worse after federal unemployment benefits expired on Friday.
A recent Census Bureau survey found that more than 26% of adults were not able to pay last month’s rent or mortgage payment, with the number rising to more than 30% in certain hard-hit states.
“I’ve never seen this many people poised to lose their housing in a such a short period of time,” Bill Faith, the head of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housin in Ohio, told the AP. “This is a huge disaster that is beginning to unfold.”
Milwaukee becomes cautionary tale:
Advocates worry that the rest of the country will follow in the footsteps of Milwaukee, where June saw a 21% increase in eviction filings.
“We are sort of a harbinger of what is to come in other places,” Colleen Foley, who heads the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee, told the AP. “We are getting calls to us from zip codes that we don’t typically serve, the part of the community that aren’t used to coming to us. It’s a reflection of the massive job loss and a lot of people facing eviction who aren’t used to not paying their rent.”
It’s not just Milwaukee. New Orleans groups have seen their eviction caseload nearly triple since the state’s moratorium ended in mid-June.
The rash of evictions has raised concerns about overcrowded housing, shelters, and a lack of resources for families who have lost everything, which could exacerbate the health crisis.
Congress is discussing extending the nationwide moratorium, which covers about 12 million people living in federally-backed buildings, but the Republican proposal offers little in terms of renter assistance.
“An eviction moratorium without rental assistance is still a recipe for disaster,” Graham Bowman, a staff attorney with the Ohio Poverty Law Center, told the AP. “We need the basic economics of the housing market to continue to work. The way you do that is you need broad-based rental assistance available to families who have lost employment during this crisis. The scale of this problem is enormous so it needs a federal response.”