LOS ANGELES - Millions of households in the U.S. could soon face evictions amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
A federal eviction moratorium, which is a legal authorization to debtors to postpone payment and allow renters to stay in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, was passed in March to protect renters and homeowners with mortgages.
The moratorium is set to expire Friday, which puts many Americans at risk of facing eviction or losing their home.
In addition to the expiration of the eviction moratorium, a federal boost to unemployment insurance also expires at the end of the week, leaving many Americans worried about how they will pay their bills.
The expiration of the measures also raises questions on whether looming evictions could ultimately lead to a spike in homelessness across the country.
Whether you’re renting or paying a mortgage, here’s what you need to know to navigate the coming changes in policy.
The CARES Act eviction measure will expire Friday
The Federal CARES Act, which was passed in late March, was instated to keep tenants from being evicted for 120 days during the coronavirus pandemic.
The measures will expire Friday and will re-permit the serving of eviction notices to those behind in their rent payments. Keep in mind, however, that a lessor that serves an eviction notice would also need to provide the tenant 30 days to vacate.
But renters aren’t the only people who need to cover expenses. Landlords need the money to cover their mortgages, property taxes and building maintenance.
A tool provided by the National Low Income Housing Association assists in finding out if a property falls under the temporary evictions moratorium designated by the CARES act. The tool tracks properties with five or more units.
According to a study by Eviction Lab at Princeton University, an average 3.6 million eviction cases are filed in the United States each year.
The study, titled “Eviction in America’', showed one eviction filing for every 17 renter households between 2000 and 2016. Approximately 1 in 40 renter households were evicted over the period, the study found.
$600 federal boost to unemployment payments set to end
Additionally, federal unemployment insurance payments end July 25 for most states because the CARES Act requires the subsidy to end before July 31.
The emergency benefit has provided most individuals receiving unemployment insurance, as well as those eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, an emergency increase in traditional unemployment benefits with an additional $600 per week from the federal government.
As deadlines loom, government struggles to find solution
To prevent the surge of evictions, more federal aid could be on the way.
According to the Associated Press, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushed ahead Wednesday toward a COVID-19 aid package with the White House as Democrats warned that the GOP is delaying needed relief to Americans during the crisis.
“We’re hopeful we’ll be able to get there,” McConnell told reporters.
The U.S. Senate and government officials have been actively discussing a rescue bill and second stimulus check. Currently, there is no legislation set to replace or extend the relief measures. It’s still unclear if the bill will include any rent protections.
States, including New York, extended their rental protections, and a number of other states have plans to lift their eviction moratoriums later this fall.
On Wednesday, a racial justice organization, New Virginia Majority, called on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to reinstate a statewide moratorium on evictions and invest $1 billion to help thousands of families who could face eviction because of the coronavirus pandemic.
If you’re facing potential eviction, you’re not alone
The eviction protection expiration comes at a tough time, as more than 40 million people filed for unemployment insurance during the coronavirus pandemic.
UrbanFootprint, a company which helps planners and companies evaluate urban markets and analyze the impacts of future scenarios, said nearly 7 million households could face eviction without government financial assistance.
“This level of displacement would be unparalleled in U.S. history and carries the potential to destabilize communities for years to come,” Joe DiStefano, CEO of UrbanFootprint, wrote.
“Even before the crisis, 47% renter households were rent-burdened and 23% were severely burdened, defined as those spending 50% or more of their income on monthly rent,” DiStefano said.
The heightened worry about evictions also comes at time when COVID-19 cases have increased in states across the country over the past month.