Group warns that the expiration of federal eviction moratorium could lead to 8 million people losing their homes.
Millions of renters in the United States have been living with the threat of eviction for months, and with a federal eviction moratorium set to expire in January, an estimated $32 billion in back rent will come due.
That could force up to 8 million tenants from their homes, according to the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel. Experts worry that without federal coronavirus relief, the increasing number of people without homes could drive additional waves of COVID-19 infections.
Public health experts note that the winter is an especially bad time to lose housing, because newly homeless people are often crammed into shelters or other tight quarters that could allow the coronavirus to spread easily.
Throughout the pandemic, agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local and state governments have implemented their own versions of eviction moratoriums to keep people in their homes.
Evictions did drop in some places thanks to the CDC’s temporary eviction ban. But many moratoriums, whether from CDC or government entities, were open to interpretation. For instance, some loopholes in the CDC’s moratorium allowed landlords to move forward with evictions by saying that a tenant violated the terms of a lease or engaged in criminal activity, among other reasons.
To make matters worse, the Trump administration recently came out with policy guidelines that allow property owners to start the eviction process while federal moratoriums are active. According to Reuters, the guidelines don’t require landlords to let tenants know that an eviction ban exists.
Americans have been left without much federal support since the last coronavirus relief package passed in the spring. In the months since, lawmakers have struggled to reach an agreement on a relief package and negotiations have repeatedly stalled.
On Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said congressional leaders would need to reach a deal on the economic stimulus by October 20 in order to pass a bill before Election Day.
Earlier negotiations were stuck over the price tag for a stimulus package, which has fluctuated between $1.8 and $2.2 trillion. Leaders have recently hit disagreements over where to allocate the funding and the language of the legislation.
“The Trump Administration must negotiate in good faith,” Pelosi said on Twitter. “They told us they would put a light touch on our most recent proposal for testing and tracing. Instead, they took a chainsaw to the proposal, cutting more than half.”
Democratic leaders have insisted that some funding go to states and local governments that have been hit hard with a loss of typical revenue streams during the pandemic. Without federal help, states and cities could face mass layoffs in departments that provide essential services to communities. According to the Washington Post, despite claims that only Democratic-led cities are struggling, Republican leaders have also requested support.
Major industries and individuals could be in trouble if lawmakers are unable to pass another stimulus package as the country heads into 2021. Major companies like Disney, Allstate, American and United Airlines are facing widespread layoffs.